News / Asia

Frantic Cooling Efforts Continue at Japan's Crippled Nuclear Plant

Aerial view of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, March 18, 2011.
Aerial view of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, March 18, 2011.

Japan is continuing its attempts to cool damaged reactors and exposed fuel rods at the crippled coastal nuclear power plant hit by the tsunami following the magnitude nine earthquake a week ago.

Japan's Prime Minister, Naoto Kan spoke bluntly when a reporter Friday evening asked him about the situation at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

The prime minister says it is "very grave" and people are risking their lives at the crippled plant. But Kan expresses confidence that things will be resolved soon.

He made the remark hours after personnel in fire trucks sprayed water on damaged reactor buildings, making what is considered a risky attempt to cool highly radioactive fuel rods.

Powerful hoses were used to shoot 50 tons of water directly on the buildings, but the military and civilian firefighters have to keep their distance and limit the time they can be inside the complex because of the radiation. The military appears to have given up trying to repeat Thursday's water drops, by helicopter, on the damaged reactor buildings.

Meanwhile, utility workers are extending an emergency power cable to the 40-year-old complex. That would allow a steady supply of electricity to run water pumps. But government officials say it could be Sunday before cooling units can be re-started at the number two and three reactors.

Since the earthquake and tsunami a week ago, fires, explosions and partial melting of cores have been experienced at four of the six reactors at the Fukushima-1 plant.

Officials say the number three reactor remains the priority.  Mixed oxide (MOX) fuel rods, partly composed of especially toxic plutonium are partially exposed. Without water they will continue to heat and potentially spew radiation beyond the coastal facility.

The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times newspapers report that there is a hole in either the floor or sides of the spent fuel pool of the Number 4 reactor. That would present another serious challenge to keeping the rods from being exposed.

Japan's government says although elevated levels of radiation are being detected kilometers away from the crippled plant, they do not pose a risk to human health.

People as far away as Tokyo are not reassured. Families have decided to head to Osaka or farther south and west. Many flights to surrounding countries are reported full with people trying to leave Japan amid news reports of the possibility of meltdowns. Some foreigners say they are also worried because food and other items in markets quickly vanished from shelves.

A number of foreign governments, including the United States, are making chartered aircraft available from the capital for their nationals who want to flee the country.

Some Japanese observers call the radiation fears by those in Tokyo an overreaction, noting those returning home overseas would be exposed to higher levels during the high-altitude flights than if they stayed put.


You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid