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JUAN GONZALEZ: The Japanese nuclear crisis continues to worsen as authorities race to find a way to cool the overheating reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Earlier today, Japan raised the nuclear alert level at the crippled plant from a four to a five, which is on par with Three Mile Island. Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, described the situation as, quote, "still very grave."

Japan is continuing to dump water on the reactors, while attempting to fix a power cable that could help restart the water pumps needed to cool the overheating nuclear fuel rods. But Gregory Jaczko, the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Thursday that it could take weeks for the crisis to be brought under control.

Meanwhile, the number of dead and missing from last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami has now topped 16,000. It is the deadliest natural disaster to hit Japan in nearly a century.

Twenty-two hundred emergency shelters are operating in the disaster zone, but many are running out of food, fuel, water and medicine. The organization Save the Children estimates 100,000 children have been left homeless.

To talk more about the crisis in Japan, we’re joined by Philip White of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo, Japan. Also with us is Dr. Ira Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility and longtime nuclear critic Ralph Nader, author of the recent book Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

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Category: Science