News / Asia

Crisis Continues at Crippled Japanese Nuclear Power Plants

Damage after an earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, is seen in this satellite image taken 9:35 am local time (0035 GMT) on March 16, 2011.
Damage after an earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, is seen in this satellite image taken 9:35 am local time (0035 GMT) on March 16, 2011.

Japan's military failed on Wednesday a first attempt to drop water from helicopters on one of the damaged reactors at its crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in what officials acknowledge is a desperate move to try to stem radiation leaks from the facility.

In a risky mission, Japan's military tried to air drop the water on the plant's damaged reactors to try to cool radioactive fuel rods. But the helicopters were called back. The Defense Ministry says the radiation level was too high.

Officials turned to the helicopter strategy after rising radiation levels forced the plant's operators to order a temporary evacuation of the last remaining staff, who had been working urgently to pump seawater over the fuel rods to keeping them from melting down with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Japan may turn to US

Japan's government said it might need the help of U.S. military forces to halt continuing radioactive emissions from a nuclear-power plant severely damaged by last Friday's tsunami, triggered by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Watch William Ide's report on the severity of the nuclear crisis

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters that the containment vessel of Reactor 3 at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant may have cracked.

The top government spokesman said it is highly probable this may be the source of a cloud of white smoke being seen in video images relayed from a helicopter 30 kilometers away from the crippled nuclear facility.

Reactor 3 earlier suffered an explosion after difficulty in cooling the fuel rods.

Earlier in the day, Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Hajimi Motojuku acknowledged the possibility that spent fuel rods at the number-four reactor at the same plant could again enter a state of a nuclear chain reaction.

Motojuku said a fire was again spotted coming from the reactor's spent-fuel cooling pond for about 30 minutes early Wednesday.  He says the cooling-pond water may be boiling off, exposing the rods again to the atmosphere.

That would mean the rods would emit radioactive substances into the environment.

The fire was originally spotted Tuesday, apparently triggered by a hydrogen explosion. But Tokyo Electric said they halted fire-fighting operations late in the day because workers believed the flames had been extinguished.

Radiation leaks continue

Radiation levels are so dangerous on the ground at the Fukushima-1 plant that workers have had to give up trying to pour water into the cooling pool and all of the facility's 800 workers have evacuated the site.

Two reactors at the plant apparently suffered partial melting of their cores when the normal cooling functions ceased following last Friday's tsunami triggered by the quake.  That is believed to be at least partly responsible for soaring background radiation levels deemed dangerous to people who stay at the facility for an extended time.

Quake death toll mounts

The nuclear crisis is distracting Japan's top officials from devoting their time to the unprecedented natural disaster. The confirmed number of dead and missing is above 10,000 in this part of the country. But local and regional officials say there may be many thousands more people buried in debris following Friday's earthquake and tsunami that washed out an uncertain number of coastal communities.   

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs