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

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

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid