News / Asia

Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant Shifts to New Blast Risk

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel, wearing protective suits, operate on an auxiliary multi-purpose support ship Hiuchi near the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, in this
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel, wearing protective suits, operate on an auxiliary multi-purpose support ship Hiuchi near the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, in this

Workers are pumping nitrogen into one of the reactors at Japan's damaged nuclear plant in an attempt to prevent an explosion caused by dangerously overheated fuel rods.

Wednesday's crisis at the Fukushima plant came after technicians finally stopped a leak of highly radioactive water from the power station that dramatically increased the amount of radiation found in nearby ocean waters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the water leak stopped before 6 a.m. Wednesday local time.  Until then, water samples in the vicinity had shown radiation levels up to 7.5 million times the allowable limit.

However, Edano said it is too early to say with confidence that the problem has been solved, and that officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company are trying to determine whether radioactive water is leaking from any other location.

Radioactive water dumping continues

The government official apologized to neighboring countries for Japan's failure to notify them before it began pumping thousands of tons of low-level radioactive water into the sea near the plant - an issue separate from the water leak into the ocean.

Edano said the pumping will continue, possibly until Friday, in order to drain a storage area that will be used to hold much more dangerous water - up to 200,000 times as radioactive - from inside the reactor.  He said steps have been taken to ensure better communication with nearby countries before such action is taken in the future.

The chief Cabinet secretary also said authorities are considering compensation payments for fishermen affected by the disaster, as well as whether to adjust the criteria for acceptable radiation levels within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around the reactors.

After pumping began Tuesday to transfer 11,500 tons of lightly radioactive water from the number-two reactor into the sea, South Korea protested the action as a possible violation of international law.

New threats

Officials at TEPCO, which operates the Fukushima plant, said a dangerous hydrogen buildup is taking place at its number-one reactor.  Japan's NHK television quoted officials saying hydrogen is accumulating inside the reactor's containment vessel - an indication that the reactor's core has been damaged.

Hydrogen explosions destroyed the outer housings of two of the plant's six reactors during the first days of the nuclear crisis that followed the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

And highly radioactive water has accumulated in lower levels of several reactors, following weeks in which workers pumped in massive amounts of water to prevent fuel rods from overheating. The water needs to be removed before workers can complete repairs to the permanent cooling systems.

National police said Wednesday the confirmed death toll in the March 11 disasters now stands at 12,468, with more than 15,000 people still unaccounted for.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid