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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid