News / Asia

Radioactive Seawater Latest Woe for Battered Japan

A comment board is seen at an evacuee center for leaked radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear facilities, March 22, 2011 in Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan.
A comment board is seen at an evacuee center for leaked radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear facilities, March 22, 2011 in Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan.

Strong aftershocks continued to rock northeastern Japan, while firefighters and repair personnel risked excessive radiation exposure at a heavily damaged nuclear-power plant.  

At the same time, elevated levels of radioactive materials in sea water off Fukushima are raising concerns that Japan's important fishing industry will be hit with an even deeper blow.  Many fishing communities were destroyed or severely damaged by the March 11th tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

The government ordered expanded testing of marine life and sea water to begin Wednesday.

Traces of external radiation from the damaged Fukushima-1 nuclear plant have already tainted raw milk and spinach, as well as tap water. Government officials and scientists say the levels, while significantly above normal, do not pose a threat to human health even if the contaminated food and liquids are ingested for a year.

Concerns also continued for a second consecutive day about the significance of steam emanating from one of the damaged reactors and smoke from another reactor building.  But government officials say the emissions do not appear to be a serious hazard, giving them cause to express some optimism the worst may be over.

The possibility of the used fuel rods reaching a highly dangerous critical state again is extremely low, says Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Deputy Director Hidehiko Nishiyama.

He adds, although the core fuel in some reactors may have partially melted, there is no anticipation of a total meltdown.

For the sixth day, firefighters sprayed water on the reactors and pools containing the used fuel rods. Keeping the fuel elements from getting overheated will further decrease radiation.

The prime minister's deputy spokesman Noriyuki Shikata says lowering the radiation levels will allow the most important missions to go faster.

"As the situation becomes stabilized, we have room for more workers coming back to the site in order to engage in, for example, possible power connectivities and to engage in the cooling of the reactors,' says Shikata.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, says electrical lines have been restored to all six reactors and power will be switched on to re-circulate water after further inspections.  That would be a major step towards automating cooling by completely submerging the exposed spent fuel.

The cooling system was severely damaged by the March 11 tsunami.

Japan's police agency says the number of those who were killed or are still missing as a result of the earthquake or the resulting tsunami has surpassed 22,000. Up to a half a million people have been displaced because their homes were destroyed or damaged, or they were ordered to leave communities near the crippled nuclear power plant.   

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid