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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora