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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs