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

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 Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid