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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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Updated details on nation's unprecedented natural, nuclear disasters

The Associated Press

Containment at three reactors intact — U.S. regulators say that while reactors 1, 2 and 3 have seen damage to their cores, their containment structures are holding. Still, smoke rose from two of the units Monday, and emergency workers trying to cool the reactors and restore power were forced to pull out. Officials at the Fukushima No. 1 plant have been battling to bring the reactors and spent fuel pools under control since the complex was damaged in the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Radiation found in food, water — Water and vegetables have been contaminated by trace amounts of radiation, though the government says not at levels dangerous to human health. Still, sales of raw milk, spinach and canola from some areas have been banned, while the World Health Organization has called on the government to do more to reassure the public about food safety.

IAEA chief says crisis exposed weaknesses — The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, says an update to nuclear safety standards should be considered. But he defended the agency's actions in the current crisis and gave no clear answer on whether he thinks the IAEA standards should be mandatory.

World Bank says reconstruction may take five years — The World Bank says Japan may need five years to rebuild from the earthquake and tsunami, which have caused up to $235 billion in damage. The disaster will likely shave up to 0.5 percentage point from the country's economic growth this year, the bank said in a report, adding the impact will be concentrated in the first half of the year. The bank cites damage estimates between $123 billion and $235 billion.


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