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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid