News / Asia

Japan Trying to Contain Potential Nuclear Crisis Following Massive Earthquake

Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1
Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1
Martyn Williams

Japan moved quickly Saturday to contained a crisis at two nuclear power plants damaged when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's northeast coast.  Government officials declared a state of emergency and launched a massive, military-led rescue operation.

Japanese officials say the 8.9 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami knocked out power and caused cooling systems to fail at two plants in Fukushima, about 240 kilometers north of Tokyo.

Officials at first believed there was a possibility that nuclear fuel rods at one of the plants may have begun melting.  Later, officials said radioactive pressure was successfully relieved by opening valves and allowing the release of radioactive steam.

Raw Video: Evacuations Near Nuclear Plant in Fukushima, Japan

But Japanese television broadcast images showing what appeared to be extensive damage to the outer structure of the building that houses the reactor.  The paneling on the steel-framed building appeared to blow off in an explosion and smoke could be seen billowing from the structure.  Japanese news media reported at least four people injured.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano commented on the incident at a Tokyo news conference.

Edano said the government was investigating what happened at the plant.  He urged people to evacuate at least 10 kilometers away from the plant, a distance that was later doubled to 20 kilometers.

Radioactive material has been found outside one reactor, where officials say they are trying to determine if a meltdown has occurred.

 

The situation at the nuclear plants comes as the government launched a large-scale military-led rescue operation to help victims of Friday's massive quake and tsunami.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he is sending 50,000 troops to aid rescue and recovery efforts.  He said 190 military planes and 25 ships have also been sent to the devastated areas.

More than 50 countries have offered Japan help and some has already begun arriving. A team from South Korea touched down in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon. The U.S. military, which maintains several bases in Japan, is also taking part in the rescue effort.

Japan sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs