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

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid