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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid