News / Asia

Confusion Over Radiation Levels at Japan Nuclear Plant

A protester in protective mask holds a placard during an anti nuclear rally in Tokyo, Sunday, March 27, 2011
A protester in protective mask holds a placard during an anti nuclear rally in Tokyo, Sunday, March 27, 2011
Diaa Bekheet

Confusion reigned Sunday at a crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, as emergency workers were pulled from a reactor building after dangerously high levels of radiation were detected in water that had accumulated in a turbine housing unit.

A spokesman for the operator of the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant originally told reporters that radiation had spiked 10 million times the normal levels Sunday, driving workers to flee the facility.  Authorities later said those radiation readings were not accurate and that new tests had been ordered.

Officials say they also detected heightened levels of radioactive iodine in Pacific Ocean water within 300 meters of the plant.  The nuclear safety agency said one-half a liter of the water contains the same amount of radiation that a person can safely be exposed to in a year.

However, officials at the agency said the ocean will quickly dilute the worst contamination, and that there is no immediate threat to marine life or seafood safety.

Contaminated seawater is the latest indication that radiation from the plant is spreading.  Heightened levels of radioactive substances also have been found this past week in the water supply in Tokyo and nearby areas.  Radiation has been found in vegetables and milk from farms near Fukushima, prompting several countries to ban imports of food from the region.

Passengers from Japan passing through a radiation screening point at Gimpo International Airport, Sunday, 27 March 2011
Passengers from Japan passing through a radiation screening point at Gimpo International Airport, Sunday, 27 March 2011
Efforts also are under way to drain highly radioactive pools of water that have accumulated in the reactor buildings, after two workers were hospitalized with radiation burns from stepping into a puddle of contaminated water.  Plant officials say they do not yet know the source of the radioactive water.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the government's main spokesperson on the nuclear disaster, told TV talks shows Sunday that the radioactive water is "almost certainly" seeping from a reactor core.

Workers on Saturday sprayed fresh water instead of seawater into the damaged nuclear reactors, in an ongoing effort to keep damaged fuel rods from overheating and spewing more radiation into the environment.  There was concern that salt in the seawater was clogging pipes and coating the fuel rods, interfering with efforts to restore the plant's cooling systems.

The U.S. Navy is sending ships loaded with fresh water to the plant on Japan's east coast.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday the situation at the plant remains precarious.  He thanked emergency workers who he says are risking their lives trying to cool the plant's reactors.

Japanese authorities have urged residents still living within a 20- to 30-kilometer radius of Fukushima to voluntarily leave the area.  Residents within that zone were told previously to stay indoors to avoid the threat of radiation, while residents closer to the plant were told to evacuate.

Japan's national police agency said Sunday the official death toll from the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the east coast March 11 has risen to more than 10,600 people, with more than 16,500 others listed as missing.  About 300,000 are living in temporary shelters.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid