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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora