Does this really help?

Europe’s energy chief warned on Wednesday of a further catastrophe at Japan’s nuclear site in the coming hours but his spokeswoman said he had no specific or privileged information on the situation.

“In the coming hours there could be further catastrophic events, which could pose a threat to the lives of people on the island,” Guenther Oettinger told the European Parliament.

“There is as yet no panic, but Tokyo with 35 million people, is the largest metropolis in the world,” he said.

“There is as yet no panic,” no thanks to Oettinger.  The situation continues to look bad in Japan and the risks of large-scale contamination in the area are still significant, but Tokyo is more than 100 miles away from the power plant.  There have been more setbacks today, however:

Efforts to extinguish smoldering spent fuel were thwarted Wednesday, after high radiation levels above forced the cancellation of a plan to dump water from a helicopter on the power plant at the center of Japan’s escalating nuclear crisis.

And suggesting the spreading of problems at the reactor, officials said the waste fuel kept at a storage pool at one of the reactors appeared to be heating up. …

Earlier Wednesday, officials worried that the critical containment unit surrounding the reactor, known as reactor No. 3, had been breached. Their worries were sparked by a fire and a surge in radiation there Wednesday morning, leading to fears of damage to the reactor and the potential release of radiation.

But officials later downplayed the idea of damage to the containment unit and instead focused on the pool, which is located in the upper part of the building surrounding the reactor. The waste fuel kept in a storage pool at the No.3 unit appeared to be heating up, they said.

Reuters reports that the Japanese will bring in water cannons to cool the reactors without getting too close  They also put out pleas for humanitarian deliveries of food and water in the region::

In a sign of desperation, police will try to cool spent nuclear fuel at one of the facility’s reactors with water cannon, normally used to quell riots.

Early in the day, another fire broke out at the earthquake-crippled facility, which has sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo in the past 24 hours, triggering fear in the capital and international alarm.

Japan’s government said radiation levels outside the plant’s gates were stable but, in a sign of being overwhelmed, appealed to private companies to help deliver supplies to tens of thousands of people evacuated from around the complex.

“People would not be in immediate danger if they went outside with these levels. I want people to understand this,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a televised news conference, referring to people living outside a 30-km (18-mile) exclusion zone. Some 140,000 people inside the zone have been told to stay indoors.

The report from the EU energy chief seems a little vague, as if he’s making assumptions based on media reports rather than on-the-ground involvement.   That’s likely because the EU hasn’t done much on the ground itself in this crisis.  The EU got around to making a “consolidated offer” of general assistance yesterday, only after Oettinger publicly called the Fukushima crisis an “apocalypse,” as Russian media reported last night:

“The European Union has… presented a consolidated offer to the Japanese authorities,” Barroso said. “We continue to stand by the Japanese people and the Japanese authorities in these very difficult moments.”

Large parts of eastern Japan were left devastated after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast on Friday, sparking a powerful tsunami. It was followed by aftershocks that have since caused blasts at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the country’s east, raising fears of a nuclear meltdown. …

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger on Tuesday dubbed Japan’s disaster an “apocalypse,” and noted that the Japanese authorities have almost lost control of the situation.

For someone who notes that “there is no panic” in Japan, Oettinger seems pretty panicked thousands of miles away. If the EU is really that concerned, then why don’t they contribute some assistance in keeping the crisis from becoming apocalyptic?