News / Asia

    Japan's Prime Minister Inspects Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and
    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and
    Daniel Schearf
    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has inspected the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to reassure the public over leaks of contaminated water.  Critics have lashed out at Abe for saying the situation is under control but the prime minister has stood by his words.

    Abe defended his controversial comments about radioactive water leaks while touring Japan's damaged nuclear power plant.
     
    Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in July, after months of denials, admitted hundreds of tons of contaminated water is leaking into the ocean.
     
    But Prime Minister Abe has said the situation remains “under control,” and leaking tanks of contaminated water, used to cool nuclear rods, posed no threat to public health or the Pacific.
     
    Wearing a protective white suit, face mask, and orange helmet, Mr. Abe backed up his statement Thursday while inspecting efforts to contain the outflow.  He said TEPCO officials have assured him the contaminated water is staying within the harbor near the plant.
     
    He says to deal with the disaster and the contaminated water, the government will come to the forefront, and he will firmly deal with the issue as the person in charge.
     
    The prime minister was escorted by TEPCO executives who told him that some 90 workers patrol the plant's 1,000 water holding tanks four times a day.  TEPCO says they are also planning to install gauges on the tanks to keep better tabs on water volumes and, by the end of the year, replace rubber-joints with stronger, welded ones.
     
    Abe told operators to decide soon on decommissioning two of the plant's nuclear reactors.
     
    The plant, in northeastern Fukushima prefecture, failed to withstand the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami resulting in nuclear reactor meltdowns.
     
    TEPCO was criticized for the slow release of information on the disaster and spending too much time defending itself.  
     
    Critics of the way authorities' have handled the disaster are not convinced about public safety.
     
    Speaking via Skype, Hisayo Takada, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in Japan, says frequent new findings and leaks at Fukushima demonstrate the situation is not under control.
     
    “From our own research, or continuous research on seafood or the marine water or marine environment, found that even the far away fish sold in the supermarket, in far away from Fukushima in Japan, found some cesium contamination,” she said.
     
    South Korea earlier this month, as a precaution, banned all fisheries imports from Fukushumi and seven nearby areas.  
     
    But experts investigating radiation around the nuclear plant say levels of contamination drop off sharply further from the area and pose no threat.
     
    Professor Jota Kanda, who is with the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, speaking via Skype, says despite the continuous flow of radioactive water from the harbor the level further out is very low.  
     
    “Fish radioactivity we found that is exceeding the level of Japanese guidelines up until now is largely derived from the radioactive material released into the ocean immediately after the accident not [from] the continuous radioactivity released from the harbor,” said Kanda.
     
    Japan's government in August announced it would take a more direct role in the clean-up after TEPCO's clumsy handling of the crisis.  
     
    On Sunday it shut down Japan's last functioning nuclear reactor for maintenance and standard upgrades.
     
    Japan's Kyodo News Agency says the Nuclear Regulation Authority will measure contamination of the sea floor off Fukushima over an area of about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles).
     
    Nonetheless, the extent of public worry was clearly on Mr. Abe's mind Thursday as he inspected holding tanks, water-treatment, and a chemical dam that are hoped to stop the leaks.
     
    He told workers at the Fukushima plant's command center the future of Japan was on their shoulders.

    • This photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank that workers determined was overfilled, causing a leak of toxic water, Fukushima, Japan, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in red helmet), wearing a protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono in Okuma, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) is briefed about water treatment equipment during his inspection tour of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its contaminated water storage tanks (top), August 31, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)
    • Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka is seen in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage at Fukushima Daiichi, Sept. 2, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows workers wearing protective suits and masks working atop contaminated water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in this photo taken by Kyodo, August 20, 2013.
    • Members of a Fukushima prefecture panel, which monitors the safe decommissioning of the nuclear plant, inspect the construction site of the shore barrier, August 6, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows the No.3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, July 18, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)
    • A worker takes radiation readings on the window of a bus at the screening point of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, June 12, 2013.
    • Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, wearing a protective suit and a mask, inspects contaminated water tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, August 26, 2013.
    • A former resident walks past an overgrown garden during a visit to his home in the abandoned town of Namie, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Nov. 20, 2011. 
    • Mourners in protective suits hold flowers at a memorial ceremony for residents from the town of Okuma, inside the contaminated exclusion zone near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, July 24, 2011. 
    • Interior of No. 4 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear power plant, Nov. 8, 2011.
    • Japanese police officers wearing suits to protect them from radiation carries a victim as another group carries another body while searching for missing people in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, April 8, 2011. 
    • Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, March 21, 2011.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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 Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.