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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid