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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More