News / Asia

Japanese Engineers Struggle With Several Damaged Nuclear Reactors

A Japanese woman draped in a blanket stands in the rubble from Friday's quake and tsunami, Sunday, March 13, 2011.
A Japanese woman draped in a blanket stands in the rubble from Friday's quake and tsunami, Sunday, March 13, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
William Ide

The estimated death toll from last week's massive earthquake off the coast of Japan and resulting tsunami climbed past 10,000 people on Sunday as authorities raced to deal with the threat of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns.  Japan's prime minister says his country is facing its worst crisis since World War II.

Power plant operators are working to reduce high temperatures and pressures in several nuclear reactors that were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.  Authorities even have injected sea water into some of the reactors to try to reduce internal temperatures and avoid meltdowns.

Four atomic power plants in Japan have reported damage, but the most urgent situation is at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where explosions occurred Monday and Saturday.  Reactors there are threatening to overheat and radioactive steam has already been vented into the atmosphere.

 

Listen to Les Carpenter's interview with VOA's Steve Herman, who is traveling to the Japanese city of Sendai, which was hit hard by the recent quake and tsunami.

 

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the challenges facing Japan were great.  But he expressed confidence that the Japanese people will overcome the crisis.

Social Media: Disaster in Japan


The Crisis Commons volunteer community has mobilized, and part of the effort is being coordinated by Japanese students at U.S. universities.


The Red Cross has opened a page on causes.com to raise money for the victims of Friday's disaster in Japan.


Google has launched an online person finder to help people reconnect with those in the disaster areas.


@kombu_s has tweeted of her experiences in the earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa. Tomomi Sasaki has compiled the tweets and translated them into English on Global Voices.


Before and after satellite photos showing the extent of the damage

Mr. Kan said the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear situation might be the biggest crisis Japan has faced since World War II.

Japanese officials have confirmed more than 1,000 deaths from the earthquake and tsunami. But the police chief from Japan's hard hit Miyagi state has said at least 10,000 people in that area alone have died.

Overnight temperatures since the disaster have been near freezing, with survivors huddling in makeshift shelters.  Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to get food and water, and nearly two million households were without electricity.

Prime Minister Kan said the Japanese government will implement electrical blackouts to manage the shortage of power, beginning Monday.  He added that people should conserve energy as much as possible.  Analysts warn that the combination of power outages and the possibility of a temporary tax increase to fund relief efforts might hit Japanese households and businesses with an economic aftershock.

Growing concerns over the nuclear situation in Japan have reignited a global debate about nuclear power.

In Paris, Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner Sophia Majnoni says the situation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant  shows that nuclear power is unsafe. "The situation is really really serious because the authorities are ready to kill a reactor because they are putting water, salt water, inside the reactor, and we don't have any experience in using salt water to cool down a reactor.  So we know that the authorities are ready to destroy a reactor to avoid a worst scenario.  But we can't say that the worst have been avoided," she said.

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, a supporter of nuclear power and chairman of  the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has called on the United States to "put the brakes" on future nuclear power plants until the situation in Japan is understood.

Despite concerns about the spread of radiation, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that the United States is not expected to experience harmful levels of radiation from Japan because of the great distance between the two countries.

In its statement, the commission says that weather patterns have taken the release of radioactive steam from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant out to sea.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs