News / Asia

Japan Government to Deal with Fukushima Nuclear Leaks

Tanks of radiation-contaminated water are seen at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, (File photo).Tanks of radiation-contaminated water are seen at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, (File photo).
x
Tanks of radiation-contaminated water are seen at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, (File photo).
Tanks of radiation-contaminated water are seen at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, (File photo).
Japan's government says it will take the lead in trying to stem the leaks of highly radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  The nuclear reactors were crippled by a huge tsunami generated by a devastating earthquake two and a half years ago.

Steve Herman's Q&A with KMV Consulting senior advisor Kevin Maher
Steve Herman's Q&A with KMV Consulting senior advisor Kevin Maheri
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is vowing to spend whatever is needed to contain the ongoing disaster at the destroyed Fukushima reactors on the Pacific coast in the northeastern part of the country.

Abe took steps on Tuesday after repeated leaks of highly toxic water at the site indicated that the plant's operator has not been able to sufficiently manage the cleanup.

  • 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.

The Japanese prime minister said it can no longer be left to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to handle the problems resulting from the contaminated water leaks.
 
“Instead of the ad hoc approaches that have been taken in the past, we put together a basic policy today that will offer a fundamental solution to the problem of contaminated water," he said. "The government needs to resolve the problem by standing at the forefront.”

One of the government responses will be the construction of a shielding wall of frozen earth around the reactors to prevent contaminated water coming into contact with groundwater.

Japan's nuclear regulator is expressing concern about the stability of the destroyed power plant amid revelations of freshly discovered water leaks.

The initial amount of public funds pledged by the government for the cleanup equals $470 million.

Kevin Maher, a former U.S. diplomat who ran the State Department's task force on the March, 2011 disaster, tells VOA that Japanese government financing is essential for the cleanup.

"There's no way that a company like TEPCO for the industry as a whole can survive with the tremendous liabilities that they're facing. I've seen estimates anywhere from a total of all those combined of 13, 14, 15 trillion yen -- up to $150 billion," he said.    "$400 million or so additional money is essential but it's not going to solve the problem. Hopefully it's going to be the first step of the government taking a more active role in managing the process, not just providing money to TEPCO."

Maher, now a senior advisor at NMV Consulting in Washington, says the entities currently leading the cleanup have no experience with decontaminating and decommissioning nuclear facilities.

"They need to have a program manager reporting to the government. And that program manager needs to have the authority to make very difficult decisions and make those decisions in terms of what's most efficient, cost effective and safest and quickest way to clean this facility up," he said.

Japanese officials contend that the water leaks at the coastal facility do not pose a threat to any other countries because the radiation will be diluted in the Pacific Ocean. But the closest towns to the plant, abandoned since the accident, are not likely to be re-inhabited for many years to come.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hovhannes from: Montevideo
September 03, 2013 6:03 PM
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help." Ronald Reagan

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
September 03, 2013 5:46 PM
It is a mystery why Japanese government did not take any action early after the destruction of the TEPCO nuclear plant by a natural disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, threatening nuclear contamination of the atmosphere, land and the ocean not only in Japan but also the rest of the world. The Russians did an admirable job of containing the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl much better and faster than the Japanese government.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 03, 2013 8:03 PM
Yes, I agree both government and TEPCO should share the responsibility for recovery from Fukushima disaster. But I think it is difficult to compare the position of Japanese and Russian governments. First and formost, I suppose Chernobyl power plant was state-run while Fukushima is private own. Those who get profit should primarily own risks concerning the business in capitalism society.That being said, it seems true we Japanese blame TEPCO too much beyond it responsibility. This meltdown was caused byan unprecidented natural disaster, in a sense, no one could expect. Anyway, I hope water contamination could be resolved ASAP. Thank you.

by: carin from: usa
September 03, 2013 12:13 PM
now a politician get into the mix we have to feel better about the whole thing? Wished we heard that every one involved in nuclear stuff is putting their mind and best effort behind this horrible disaster and put a stop to it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs