News / Asia

Japanese Engineers Prepare Damaged Reactors for Electrical Power

Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011
Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011

Japanese media reports say engineers at a stricken nuclear plant were preparing late Sunday to send electrical power into two nuclear reactors heavily damaged by a massive earthquake and a tsunami, as the toll of missing and dead from the twin disasters passed 20,000.

Japanese television said Tokyo Electric Power Company workers were inspecting equipment in reactors number 1 and 2 at the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant, to make sure components were in working order.  The report said engineers wanted to route electricity to the crippled plant's central control room by late Sunday, in a race to cool dangerously overheated spent fuel rods.  TEPCO said it can begin collecting data on conditions in the reactors once power is restored.  

The company also said pressure in reactors 3 and 4 showed some signs of stabilizing late Sunday.  Additionally, authorities said the number 5 and 6 units -- the least problematic of the six reactors -- were safely under control after newly-restored backup power sources activated water pumps that cooled storage pool temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the government says Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will tour an area 20 kilometers from the plant on Monday.  That announcement came hours after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the entire facility north of Tokyo will eventually be shut down because it had sustained too much damage to repair.   

Japanese police said the tally of confirmed dead and missing from the March 11 catastrophes climbed to just under 21,000 by Sunday evening.  Police said that estimate includes forecasts for nearly 15,000 fatalities in Miyagi prefecture, one of four northeastern jurisdictions that bore the brunt of the huge tsunami.

In a bit of good news Sunday, rescue workers pulled an 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson from a flooded house in the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki.  The pair were evacuated by helicopter and are being treated in a hospital.

In another development, the Japanese government says elevated radiation levels have been detected in milk and spinach in Fukushima prefecture and in a shipment of fava beans shipped to Taiwan.

However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the tested food does not pose an immediate health risk.  He said the government will decide Monday whether to ban sales and export of food products from the area.  

Government health officials said Saturday that radioactive iodine was found in drinking water from Fukushima prefecture last week, at levels above government safety limits.  Kyodo news, citing Japan's Health Ministry, says the iodine levels then fell.  There was no explanation in the report as to why the information was not released sooner.  The International Atomic Energy Agency says radioactive iodine can pose a short-term health risk if ingested, particularly for children.

The government also said trace amounts of radioactive substances have been detected in tap water in Tokyo and other areas, but at levels that are not dangerous to human health.

The risk of radiation poisoning has already forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people who lived within 20 kilometers of the reactors.  Many are in makeshift shelters, with inadequate food, water and other supplies, in frigid winter weather.

Japan raised the severity rating of the disaster from 4 to 5 on the 7-point international nuclear event scale.  Level 5 signals an accident with wider consequences, including some release of radioactive material, with a high probability of significant public exposure.


Steve Herman

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

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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