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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid