News / Asia

    Japan on 'Maximum Alert' for Nuclear Crisis

    A worker from a water supply department walks by water faucets set up for survivors at a shelter in the devastated town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 28, 2011
    A worker from a water supply department walks by water faucets set up for survivors at a shelter in the devastated town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 28, 2011

    Japan's prime minister says the country is on "maximum alert" over its nuclear crisis as radiation continues to seep out of the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant and traces of plutonium have been found in the soil.

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday also warned that the situation remains "unpredictable" at the earthquake-damaged plant. He said his government is giving its complete attention to halting the radiation leaks.

    Officials announced earlier that dangerous plutonium has been detected in the soil in five locations around the plant, more than two weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant's cooling systems.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the levels did not exceed normal background levels, but that the composition of the plutonium indicates at least some of it came from the nuclear plant.

    Japan's top government spokesman Yukio Edano said Tuesday the government is doing everything it can to bring the situation under control. He said the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and US Armed Forces were providing support and know-how.

    Japanese officials have said the presence of plutonium in the soil is evidence of a meltdown in the core of the number 3 reactor, the only one of six at the plant that uses plutonium in its fuel.

    The discovery is the latest setback in the effort to shut down the reactors, whose cooling systems were knocked out when a 9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11.

    More bodies are discovered daily as search crews make their way through the rubble of Japan's northeast coast, bringing the toll by Tuesday to more than 11,000 dead and 17,000 missing. Almost 200,000 more are still living in poorly equipped shelters.

    Edano said Tuesday the government had set up a special task force dedicated to supporting the livelihood of those affected by the triple disaster.

    On Monday, officials announced that water being used to keep the reactors' fuel rods from overheating has leaked into maintenance tunnels that run alongside three of the reactors and lead within 55 meters of the open ocean. Radiation in the water outside the number two reactor was measured at levels that can cause sickness within an hour.

    Workers were already grappling with water at similar radiation levels inside the reactor building, where two workers suffered radiation burns after stepping in the water last week. Authorities say the water must be safely removed from the buildings before workers can resume the crucial work of restoring electrical power to the pumps that run the plant's cooling systems.

    At a news conference Tuesday, Edano described the situation as "very grave." He said the workers have no choice but to continue pumping water into the reactors to keep the fuel rods from overheating, even as they confront the challenge of disposing with the contaminated runoff.

    Radiation escaping from the plant has made its way into milk and vegetables in the surrounding province and into ocean areas near the facility. It has also infected tap water in Tokyo, 220 kilometers to the south, and has been detected at trace levels as far away as China and South Korea.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora