News / Asia

Japan Promises to Shut Down Fukushima Reactors By Year's End

Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (file photo).
Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (file photo).

Japan says it will shut down reactors at the Fukushima-1 power plant by the end of the year. The announcement comes despite revelations that a natural disaster in March damaged the nuclear facility worse than earlier believed.

Serious troubles continue to beleaguer the operators of the Japanese nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture that was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami. But Prime Minister Naoto Kan told parliament Monday the damaged reactors will be shut down sometime this year.

Kan says the timeline for bringing the four damaged reactors into a state of cold shutdown will not be changed. He insists that will happen in six to nine months.

That timetable is consistent with a plan Tokyo Electric Power Company announced one month ago. But since then it has become apparent that the reactors suffered worse damage than earlier thought. The number one reactor, it is now acknowledged, suffered a meltdown soon after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan.

Japanese experts say the fuel rods inside the reactor were fully exposed to the air and melted. However, the fuel apparently dropped to the bottom of the containment vessel, preventing it from going into a full meltdown stage.

Recent attempts to keep the reactor cool by filling the containment chamber with water have run into difficulty. The power company, known as TEPCO, says thousands of tons of highly radioactive contaminated water have leaked through holes created by melted fuel into the reactor basement.

TEPCO is scheduled to release a review of its shutdown plan on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the utility acknowledged that the fuel cores of two additional reactors at Fukushima-1 had also been substantially damaged and cooling water is leaking.

High radiation levels near the units are hampering critical repairs as workers can spend only a limited amount of time there to avoid overexposure.

The world’s worst nuclear accident in a quarter of a century was triggered by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeastern Pacific coast. Police say 25,000 people were killed or are still missing.

Concerns about radiation emanating from the plant forced the evacuation of numerous communities.

On Sunday, thousands more residents beyond the previously established 20-kilometer evacuation zone left their homes. Authorities say atmospheric conditions have raised long-term safety concerns about radiation levels in their towns and villages.

About 80,000 people were initially forced out of their homes within the original no-go zone. They have yet to be informed when they might be able to reside there again.

Analysts say the nuclear crisis alone could cost Japan between $50 billion and $100 billion. Beyond that, the country, which has been in the economic doldrums for years, needs to figure out how to pay for the equally significant cost of rebuilding hundreds of coastal communities that were washed away by tsunami and other cities that suffered substantial quake damage. Some economists predict that will cost an additional $200 billion.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More