Morning Security Brief: Brave Workers Fight Nuclear Catastrophe at Japanese Plant, U.S. Disaster Preparedness, & Much More

By Matthew Harwood


♦ About 100 technicians remain at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, working to stop a larger nuclear disaster. "Workers struggled on Tuesday and Wednesday to keep hundreds of gallons of seawater a minute flowing through temporary fire pumps into the three stricken reactors, Nos. 1, 2 and 3," reports The New York Times. "Among the many problems that officials acknowledged on Wednesday was what appeared to be yet another fire at the plant and indications that the containment vessel surrounding a reactor may have ruptured. That reactor, No. 3, appeared to be releasing radioactive steam." The Times goes on to describe the workers heroism, who have been "asked to make escalating — and perhaps existential — sacrifices that so far are being only implicitly acknowledged: Japan’s Health Ministry said Tuesday it was raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each worker could be exposed, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers."

♦ At a fusion center conference in Denver yesterday, homeland security chief Janet Napolitano addressed U.S. disaster preparedness. "We are constantly practicing using worst-case scenarios to make sure we are as prepared and ready to go in any kind of crisis," she said. "Just as we have learned from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, I am sure in the aftermath, we will learn something from the tragedy in Japan." In May, emergency workers from five Midwestern states will exercise an earthquake response within the New Madrid earthquake zone, reports The Denver Post.

♦ British police are training for a Mumbai-style terrorist attack. "More officers are being trained to respond to an armed attack, the level of firearms training is increasing and ministers are involved in mock scenarios," reports The Telegraph. "Lady Neville-Jones said the UK faced a 'serious and sustained; threat which had not diminished in recent years." Baroness Neville-Jones told the Royal United Services Institute conference that "The possibility of a scenario similar to the devastating incident in Mumbai in 2008 is one for which we must be prepared."

♦ Three top officials from a New Mexican border town arrested for supplying guns to Mexico's drug war have been denied bail. "Columbus Mayor Eddie Espinoza, former Police Chief Angelo Vega and town trustee Blas Gutierrez were among a dozen defendants in the case arraigned before U.S. Magistrate William Lynch," reports The Associated Press. "Prosecutors allege the three conspired to buy guns from another defendant, Ian Garland of Chaparral, N.M., and then smuggle them across the Mexican border for use by drug cartels. Some of the more than 200 guns purchased over 14 months were found in a drug bust in Juarez, Mexico, prosecutors said."


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