News / Asia

Progress Reported at Crippled Japanese Nuclear Plant

A staff member checks the level of radiation on an industrial product produced in Fukushima Prefecture at Fukushima Technology Center in Koriyama, northeastern Japan, April 4, 2011
A staff member checks the level of radiation on an industrial product produced in Fukushima Prefecture at Fukushima Technology Center in Koriyama, northeastern Japan, April 4, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

A bit of progress is being reported at the Japanese nuclear power plant, crippled by last month's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting large tsunami.  

The operator of the severely damaged Fukushima-1 nuclear plant and Japan's government are contending the worst is past, here.

But the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Masataka Shimizu, is again apologizing for causing the month-long crisis that has provoked health and environmental concerns far from Japan.

Speaking at a Tokyo news conference Wednesday, Shimizu said the company is preparing to compensate those living near here, mainly farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods have suffered because of Japan's worst nuclear plant accident.

He also vowed to heed Prime Minister Naoto Kan's call for the company to quickly take measures to alleviate the danger.  In that regard, Shimizu says the utility is thinking about moving exposed radioactive fuel rods to a safer place, away from the damage.

In the meantime, pumper trucks, normally used to pour concrete, are spraying tons of water on the exposed used fuel rods.  The fuel needs to be kept immersed in water to avoid heating to dangerous temperatures that could cause them to stream high levels of radiation
into the atmosphere.

Work also continues to pump 900 tons of toxic water  out of an underground trench next to a turbine building.  The presence of the highly radioactive water has hampered other repair work.

The damage control effort has been repeatedly interrupted in recent days by large aftershocks. Those tremors compel workers to stop what they are doing and take cover until it is clear the quakes have not inflicted further damage and that a fresh tsunami has not been generated.

It was the magnitude 9.0 quake and resulting tsunami - which is estimated to have reached as high as 15 meters here - that crippled four of the plant's six reactors.  It is still not certain just how badly the reactors have been damaged.  Two other reactors were out of
service on March 11 and were not damaged.  Japan's government says some of spent fuel rods for at least one of the reactors have partially melted.

Officials Wednesday defended their delay in officially deeming the disaster on par with the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former Soviet Union.  The Level Seven indication means this is a major accident with widespread implications for human health and the environment.

The government says it did not have sufficient data earlier to make the assessment to shift Fukushima from a Level Five.

However, Japan's nuclear safety agency is stressing that the total radiation spewed from Fukushima is still less than one-tenth of what leaked from Chernobyl, the world's worst nuclear power plant accident.

Workers here are trying to keep it that way, while avoiding exposure above the Japanese government's recently expanded limit of radiation for those at nuclear facilities.

The nuclear crisis has compounded Japan's misery.  The triple tragedy, involving the earthquake, tsunami and radiation, is estimated to eventually cost Japan up to $300 billion, making it the world's worst natural disaster.  

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid