News / Asia

High Radiation Levels Continue to Hamper Work at Crippled Japanese Nuclear Plant

Workers attempting to repair power lines at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Tomioka, March 24, 2011
Workers attempting to repair power lines at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Tomioka, March 24, 2011

High radiation levels at a crippled Japanese nuclear power plant continue to slow efforts to bring the situation under control. The Fukushima-1 complex has suffered repeated trouble since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11.

Workers at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant are trying to remove pools of highly radioactive water that may have seeped from reactor cores or  where used fuel rods are stored at four of the six reactors.

It is the latest challenge at the crippled facility, which has been beset by a series of hydrogen explosions and radiation leaks since the March 11 tsunami destroyed its cooling system.  Since then, fire engines and concrete trucks have been used to pour thousands of tons of seawater onto the reactors and into the fuel rod pools.

The deputy director of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Hidehiko Nishyama, says an effort is under way to replace sea water with fresh water.  Nishiyama says it is a race against time because workers have to limit their exposure to the high radiation levels.

Nishiyama adds that Tokyo Electric Power Company has detected radioactive iodine 1,250 times the legal limit 300 meters offshore from the plant.  That is a sharply higher level than recorded in previous days.

It remains unclear what is happening with the Number-3 reactor, which is fueled by a mix of uranium and plutonium.

The Japanese government says there is no evidence of a breach of the stainless steel chamber of the reactor core. Concern rose after two workers suffered skin burns Thursday when they were exposed to water in the reactor's turbine building. Authorities say the water was 10,000 times the level that would be expected within a reactor building.  

Authorities say the high levels might be from the spent fuel pool lined with reinforced concrete. They note that pressure and the temperature inside the reactor core remain at levels far lower than what would further melt the core.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, in remarks Friday evening, described the situation at the nuclear power plant as continuing to be "very grave and serious."

Vapor wafting from the facility has compelled Japanese broadcasters to add to their news programs regular reports of radiation levels for various cities.  The announcer, on the Saturday noon newscast on NHK, says the reading for the city of Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture, at 7 a.m. was 3.40 micro-sieverts per hour, which he says is a higher radiation reading than previously recorded.

Koriyama is 60 kilometers west of the Fukushima nuclear plant.  Homes within 20 kilometers of the plant have been evacuated. People who have remained in a zone between 20 and 30 kilometers have been advised to stay indoors to minimize their exposure to radiation.

A government spokesman Friday suggested that residents who live up to 30 kilometers away might want to voluntarily re-locate to places with better access to food and services.

The United States government has recommended that people stay at least 80 kilometers away from the troubled nuclear complex.

Japan's national police agency says the death toll from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is above 10,000. About 17,000 people remain missing


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid