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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs