News / Asia

Japanese Plant Operators Brace for Continuing Aftershocks

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant is seen in Fukushima Prefecture in this undated handout photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co, 14 Apr 2011
The crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant is seen in Fukushima Prefecture in this undated handout photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co, 14 Apr 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

The operators of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant say they are moving equipment to higher ground after a series of strong aftershocks that have hampered efforts to repair the crippled facility.

Search crews meanwhile have moved within 10 kilometers of the stricken plant for the first time in their search for the bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the facility. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Thursday with survivors in the worst-hit areas for the first time.

The latest strong aftershock came at about 6 a.m. local time Thursday, with a magnitude of 6.1. It was the fourth temblor since Monday with a magnitude of 6 or greater and the 14th with a magnitude greater than 5. Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled Japan's northeastern coast since last month's massive 9.0 earthquake.

Officials with the Tokyo Electric Power Company said they are reinforcing connections to the national electrical grid to make sure they have power to pump water into the plant's reactors and cooling ponds. A spokesman said generators and other equipment are being moved to higher ground to protect against another tsunami.

Outside the plant, about 300 policemen in protective white suits began picking through rubble inside of a 10-kilometer radius around the Fukushima plant for the first time. Search efforts in the area have been put off because of high radiation levels, but authorities want to recover bodies before they deteriorate to the point where they become a health hazard and impossible to identify.

In northern Japan, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko comforted survivors at two emergency shelters in the city of Asahi in Chiba Prefecture. The royal couple plans a series of visits to the hardest-hit areas in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures between now and May.

At the Fukushima plant, workers at the plant are also seeking a way to remove spent fuel rods from a storage pond at the plant's number four reactor, where elevated radiation levels have been detected in the water. Officials said Wednesday that the radiation levels suggest that some of the rods have been damaged, though most are likely intact.

Technicians managed to pump more than 250 tons of highly radioactive water out of a tunnel next to another of the plant's reactors on Wednesday, an essential step before they can resume work on repairing the unit's vital cooling systems. But Japan's NHK Television said the water level in the tunnel had risen again Thursday morning, suggesting water is still leaking into the tunnel from the reactor.

NHK quoted plant officials as saying radiation levels in the ocean near the plant have dropped dramatically since a leak was plugged last week but are still high. The latest reading found radioactive iodine at 2,500 the legal limit, compared to 7.5 million times the limit on April 2.

The network also reported that recent health ministry testing has found radiation at 25 times the legal limit in fish caught south of the nuclear plant on Wednesday, and that radioactivity was detected on 11 kinds of vegetables sampled in Fukushima prefecture on Monday.

The toll from the March 11 disaster continues to rise, with Japan's national police agency reporting more than 13,300 confirmed dead and more than 15,000 missing.

Japan's Kyodo news agency says many of the victims died when officially designated evacuation sites were swamped or washed away by the tsunami, which was as high as a three-story building when it hit the coast. The agency says it has identified more than 100 evacuation sites that failed to stand up to the tidal wave.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid