News / Asia

Japan Starts Riskiest Work at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
VOA News
Technicians at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have begun their most dangerous task in decommissioning the complex damaged by the 2011 tsunami.

The process that started Monday is aimed at delicately removing about 1,500 sets of radioactive fuel rods from a storage pool inside a damaged nuclear reactor building. The uranium and plutonium rods from reactor number four will be transferred to another storage pool in a safer structure.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said it expects the operation to last a year. A mistake or accident that damages the fuel rods could release large amounts of radiation.

In day one of the operation, Japanese workers used a crane to remove four sets of fuel rods from a rack inside the storage pool and placed them into a fully-immersed cask. They plan to fill the cask with 22 sets of rods by Tuesday, before lifting the cask out of the pool and driving it to the safer container building.

Fukushima's reactor number four was offline at the time of the earthquake-triggered tsunami. But hydrogen got into the building and caused explosions that blew off the roof and damaged the walls surrounding the fuel rod storage pool, which is more than 18 meters above ground level. Authorities fear another earthquake could topple the pool.

TEPCO has drawn strong criticism for its handling of the Fukushima decommissioning process. In recent months it has reported a series of mishaps including leaks from tanks storing radioactive water.

After completing work on reactor number four, technicians will begin removing radioactive waste from three other reactors that went into meltdown after the tsunami.

TEPCO said decommissioning the entire Fukushima complex could take 30 to 40 years.

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.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hiroshi Suzuki from: Tokyo
November 19, 2013 1:46 PM
Fukushima fallout damaged thyroid glands of California babies 19th November 2013 The Ecologist Confirmed cases of hypothyroidism, defined as those with Thyroid Stimulating Hormone level greater than 29 units increased by 21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive Iodine in the womb. The same group of children had a 27% increase in 'borderline cases'. Our paper reports 44 confirmed thyroid cancer cases in 0-18 year olds in Fukushima in the last six months (a figure that has since risen to 53). In the hypothyroidism paper we discuss the 44 cases relative to the population and calculate that this represents an 80-fold excess based on national data prior to the Fukushima Iodine releases.

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