News / Asia

Nuclear Emergency Adds to Japan Disaster Woes

A man and his child who have just arrived from inside the danger zone in Fukushima Prefecture are checked for abnormal radiation levels, Sunday, 13 March 2011
A man and his child who have just arrived from inside the danger zone in Fukushima Prefecture are checked for abnormal radiation levels, Sunday, 13 March 2011

Explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant

Japanese authorities are struggling to prevent a disaster at a second nuclear reactor damaged in Friday's massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake.   Authorities say at least 19 people have been exposed to radiation and more than 160 others may have been.  

Radiation readings 400 times higher than normal levels were detected in Miyagi prefecture (state) for about 90 minutes Sunday afternoon. An electric power company that made the announcement, however, describes the danger as "very low." It attributes the emissions to a deliberate venting of radioactive substances from a damaged nuclear plant to the south, here in Fukushima prefecture.

This is where authorities are fighting to control overheated reactors,  injecting sea water into them to reduce internal pressure.

An industry veteran in Japan, who spoke with VOA News, says the reactors suffered serious damage after tsunami waves swamped electrical lines and emergency water storage tanks that are critical for the cooling process.  

Central government officials also warn a second reactor at the Fukushima plant could suffer an explosion similar to the one that occurred at the Number 1 reactor Saturday.

Government and industry officials say the two reactors are likely to be permanently out of commission.

Japan's top government spokesman says further reactor explosions will pose no risk to the 170,000 residents already evacuated from a 20-kilometer radius around the power generation facility.

Makeshift emergency centers have been set up to screen those coming out of the danger zones.  

A disaster relief official wearing a respirator, who does not want to be named, explained that 1,500 people have been screened since Saturday in this municipal building parking lot in Koriyama.

Evacuees who are deemed radiation free then are sent to shelters where they get  bottled water and rice balls supplied by Red Cross volunteers.

Takashi Oohata was sent to a shelter with seven relatives. They are sharing a floor with 1,800 other evacuees.  

Oohata says the Japanese government needs to ensure they receive adequate food and water and are safely able to return to their homes as soon as possible.

None of the officials on site could predict when an all-clear signal would come. In the meantime Japan plans to distribute pills to prevent radiation poisoning.

Besides the concern about the spread of radiation, the loss of reactors here in Fukushima prefecture is going to be felt in another way across much of eastern Japan. Power companies say there will be rolling blackouts as the lost capacity means Japan faces an unusual shortage of electricity.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid