News / Asia

Efforts Continue to Cool Crippled Japanese Nuclear Reactors

Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, March 21, 2011
Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, March 21, 2011

Japanese firefighters halted water spraying on Monday at the country's severely crippled nuclear power plant after smoke was spotted rising from one of the reactor buildings.

It is the latest setback in Japan's effort to cool crippled reactors and their exposed used radioactive fuel at the Fukushima-1 complex in the northeastern part of the country.  The power plant's cooling system was knocked out on March 11th by a huge tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant was temporarily evacuated Monday after smoke was seen rising from the Number-3 reactor building. Japanese crews  have been taking turns in the dousing operation to avoid excessive exposure to the high radiation levels since last Thursday.

The deputy director of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Hidehiko Nishiyama, says there was no explosion before the sighting of the smoke, which is not believed to be linked to the reactor's overheating fuel rods.

Radiation levels are stable, says Nishiyama, and officials are trying to determine the source of the smoke from the reactor whose mixed oxide fuel contains highly toxic plutonium.

On Sunday, officials said pressure in the Number-3 reactor's containment vessel temporarily rose, but later stabilized.

There were also reports of white smoke seen above the Number-2 reactor unit late Monday.  Tokyo Electric Power Company says it appears that steam was released, but the source was not the pool for used fuel rods.

Before the latest setback, Japanese officials said it would like take several more days to restore power to the Number-2 reactor where the core containment vessel may have been damaged.  It is one of three reactors at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant with cores that, officials say, may have partially melted.  Seawater has been pumped into them to prevent the fuel from being exposed.

Tokyo Electric says external power lines have been re-connected to the crippled facility.  That will allow plant operators to again properly monitor radiation levels, illuminate control rooms and stabilize the cooling process.

Another serious challenge faces the crews working to stabilize the Number-4 reactor.  Its fuel was not in the reactor core at the time of the March 11th earthquake.  Those fresher fuel rods - hotter in terms of radiation - are exposed because the roof of the reactor building was blown off in an explosion.

Speaking Monday in Vienna to the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, director-general Yukiya Amano said the crisis at the Fukushima-1 plant has not been resolved and the situation "remains very serious."

The Japanese government ordered four prefectures to halt shipments of two vegetables, because the levels of radiation found in the produce exceeded legal limits.  Fukushima prefecture has also been told not to ship raw milk.

In Ibaraki prefecture, spinach 27 times over the limit for radioactive iodine and quadruple the allowed maximum for cesium has been detected.

Ibaraki governor Masaru Hashimoto is seeking to reassure understandably jittery consumers, now worried about whether it is safe to eat vegetables.

The governor says even if a person were to eat the spinach they would not suffer any ill effect.  Trace amounts of radioactive substances have also been detected since Sunday in the tap water of nine prefectures.


You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid