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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid