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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid