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

    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.


    Diaa Bekheet

    Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets. He is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora