2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 5, 1999
Unsafe plant spurns nuclear blunder
TOKAIMURA, Japan (AP) - The government For years, Tokyo insisted its nuclear facilities were off, Japanese media reports said.
stepped up its investigation yesterday into shoddy far safer than those in other nations because of Japan's The atomic reaction, called fission, set off by the
practices at a uranium-processing plant that set oif high technology and meticulous workers. accident is similar to what happens in a nuclear reac-
Japan's worst nuclear accident. Officials have often scoffed at the idea that an acci- tor and is the principle behind the atomic bomb.
The three workers responsible for the accident were dent like the ones at Chernobyl in the Ukraine or Processing uranium, if done properly, does not entail
using bucket-like containers to mix the uranium and Three Mile Island in the United States could ever hap- an atomic reaction.
were on the assignment for the first time. They also
skipped some steps to get the job done as quickly as
possible, the national Asahi newspaper reported.
The Science and Technology Agency was inspect-
ing the site of Thursday's accident and questioning
officials of JCO Co., the private company that ran the
plant in Tokaimura, 70 miles northeast of Tokyo.
The agency also announced plans to search the
offices of 20 nuclear facilities around the country, and
the government issued notice that the operating proce-
Oures of all nuclear power companies will be exam-
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi asked for tighter
emergency safety checks at all facilities handling
nuclear fuel. He also requested a study on the "prop-
er moral discipline" of employees at nuclear fuel
pen in Japan.
Revelations that corner-cutting led to Thursday's
accident have dampened that sense of infallibility.
Workers put in too much uranium, setting off an
uncontrolled atomic reaction that continued for hours,
spurting radioactivity into the air.
The Tokaimura accident sent the three workers to
the hospital - two suffering potentially lethal doses
of radiation. Forty-six other people were also exposed
JCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo
Metal Mining Co., has admitted that it had for years
deviated from government-approved procedures by
having its own illegal manual.
The company was not required to be prepared for
possible atomic reactions because the uranium-pro-
cessing plant was in principle not supposed to set any
By using the bucket-like containers instead of more
sophisticated equipment, the mixing could be short-
ened from three hours to just 30 minutes, the Asahi
said, citing a hospitalized worker's statement to police.
The company's reaction to the accident also is under
Firefighters called in to help injured workers were
never warned of a potential release of radioactivity
and went in without protective gear. Firefighters were
among those exposed to radiation.
The speed of JCO's warning to town officials was
also being examined. According to time lines provid-
ed by the company and Tokaimura municipal officials,
nearly two hours elapsed between the accident and any
notice to residents that something was wrong.
Japanese media reports said JCO knew within the
first 10 minutes that an atomic reaction had begun.
r year include
AROUND THE NATION
Fed expected to keep current rates
WASHINGTON -- With the economy still racing along, the Federal Reserve
should be getting ready to raise interest rates for a third time to cool things off. But
most economists are betting that the central bank will leave rates unchanged when pol-
icy-makers meet today.
They base that view on what Fed officials have had to say in recent weeks and
also on economic indicators showing'that while economic growth has been str*,
keeping unemployment at a 29-year low, inflation has remained benign as well.
"They definitely won't raise rates," said Lawrence Chimerine, economist at the
Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank. "They have moved pre-
emptively twice this year. They can't keep pre-empting when the traditional indi-
cators of an increase in inflation are not there." The central bank raised rates for the
first time in more than two years on June 30 and then again on Aug. 25, boosting the
federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, to 5.25 percent.
Those increases in borrowing costs for banks were matched in lockstep fashion
by identical quarter-point raises in banks' prime lending rate. The benchmark rate
for millions of consumer and business loans now stands at 8.25 percent.
After the last rate increase, the Fed kept its policy directive, an indicator of future
moves, at neutral, saying its two rate increases "should markedly diminish thee
of rising inflation going forward."
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Continued from Page 1.
seniors, Bollinger also plans to take a
five- to 10-year look at in-state vs. out
of state student enrollment.
He said that during the past 15
years the tuition for out of state stu-
dents has risen tremendously and the
University should look at what this
has done to their enrollment numbers.
Increasing recruitment of outstanding
non-resident high school seniors,
Bollinger said, will also be consid-
Bollinger also stressed his commit-
ment to additional campus planning
projects sqch as the Arthur Miller
Theater and the Robert Frost Poetry
ColumbiaU. tries to
prevent virus' spread
NEW YORK -The mosquito-borne
virus plaguing New York, previously
labeled St. Louis Encephalitis, has
been reclassified as a West Nile-like
virus by the New York City Department
of Health. As a precaution, Baker Field
and South Lawn were sprayed with
pesticides last night by Health Services
and Environmental Health and
Columbia University Health Services
recommended that students avoid shrubs
and fields on campus and close their
windows. While pyrethrin, the pesticide
sprayed on campus, is a natural extract, it
can create an unpleasant odor, and exces-
sive inhalation could cause scratchy
throats. A voicemail message warning
students was sent out last Friday after-
This spraying should be effective for
about two weeks, at which point anoth-
er assessment will be made. A second
phase of spraying will likely take place
next week in mosquito-infested areas
such as standing water on rooftops.
As of Friday, the DOH announced 36
confirmed cases, 168 cases under
investigation, and four deaths from
encephalitis. Of the 36 cases, 27 are
age 60 or over, and by location 24' are
from Queens, nine from The Bro x,
two from Manhattan, and one f
Brooklyn. Only five victims remain
win $456M lawsuit
MARION, Ill. - A jury ordered
State Farm to pay $456 million to 4.7
million customers yesterday in a law-
suit accusing the nation's largest
insurer of using inferior parts for#6
A trade group called the verdict the
largest ever against an insurance com-
The plaintiffs still are seeking an
additional S4 billion on their claim
that State Farm deliberately
deceived customers about the parts'
There's a hot new commodity
ARiOUD THE WORLD
I . >
North Korea blasts
alleged U.S. killings
SEOUL, South Korea -- North
Korea criticized yesterday the alleged
mass killing of civilian refugees by
U.S. soldiers in the early days of the
Korean War and demanded that
It was the first official reaction from
the communist state on last week's
news report on the alleged killings in
No Gun Ri village in July 1950.
"The truth of history cannot be dis-
torted and covered," said Pyongyang's
Rodong Sinmun, the main newspaper
of the North's ruling Workers' Party of
It said the U.S. forces committed mas-
sacres not only in No Gun Ri but also in
other areas during the 1950-53 war.
Historians say North Korean troops
committed far more atrocities, sum-
marily executing U.S. prisoners of war
and slaughtering large numbers of
South Korean civilians.
In its commentary, Rodong criticized
the U.S. and South Korean govern-
ments for dismissing repeated requests
for an investigation by South Koreans
who say they survived the No Gun Ri
Rebel army abducts
BOGOTA, Colombia - A small
rebel army thought to have faded into
obscurity kidnapped and then released
a dozen residents of the northern
Colombian town of Ocana yesterday, a
police commander said. Two of the
captives were injured and one died*
The incident suggested yet ano r
threat to this country's troubled peace
The abductions set off two con-
frontations with soldiers, who con-
ducted a successful rescue attempt,
and brought the Popular Liberation
Army, known as the EPL, more noto-
riety than it has enjoyed in nearly a
- Compiled from Daily wire rep.
University of Michigan
C A R E E R F A I R
T U E S D A Y 0
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M I C H I G A N
C T O B E R
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U N ION
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