News / Asia

Japan's Nuclear Regulator Alarmed About Fukushima Contamination Reports

A general view of the cover installation for the spent fuel removed from the cooling pool is pictured at the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Company's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, June 12, 2013.A general view of the cover installation for the spent fuel removed from the cooling pool is pictured at the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Company's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, June 12, 2013.
x
A general view of the cover installation for the spent fuel removed from the cooling pool is pictured at the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Company's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, June 12, 2013.
A general view of the cover installation for the spent fuel removed from the cooling pool is pictured at the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Company's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, June 12, 2013.
Reuters
Japan's nuclear regulator expressed growing alarm on Wednesday at increased contamination beside the seafront of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and urged the plant's operators to take protective measures.
 
Fukushima's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has acknowledged problems are mounting at the plant north of Tokyo, the site of the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
 
On Tuesday, the company said radiation levels in groundwater had soared, suggesting highly toxic materials from the plant were getting closer to the Pacific more than two years after three meltdowns triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
 
Shunichi Tanaka, head of the new Nuclear Regulation Authority, told reporters he believed contamination of the sea had been continuing since the March 2011 catastrophe.
 
“I think contamination of the sea is continuing to a greater or lesser extent,” Tanaka said. “It was contaminated at the time of the accident, but I think it has been continuing for the last two years. Coming up with countermeasures against all possible scenarios is a top priority.”
 
The NRA “strongly suspected” radiation was contaminating the Pacific, Kyodo news agency said in an earlier report from a weekly NRA commission meeting, citing Tanaka.
 
In the days after the tsunami, a plume of radiation from explosions fell over wide areas of the land and sea.
 
Toxic materials, such as caesium, were later found to have leaked through channels in the ground on the side of the station by the sea, prompting expressions of concern from South Korea and China.
 
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was unaware of reports of contamination leaking into the Pacific.
 
An official at South Korea's fisheries ministry said regular tests were run on fish caught off the country's coast and any with contamination exceeding permitted levels banned from sale. Another ministry official said the direction of currents made it unlikely contamination would reach South Korean waters.
 
Tokyo Electric, also known as Tepco, said it was checking Tanaka's comments and could offer no immediate comment.
 
Tepco said on Tuesday an observation well between the damaged reactor No. 2 and the sea showed levels of radioactive caesium-134 and ceasium-137 had soared over the weekend.
 
Last month, Tepco found lower levels of caesium in groundwater flowing into the plant on ground some distance from the sea.
 
The operator has been flushing water over the melted fuel rods in three reactors to keep them cool for more than two years, but contaminated water has been building up at the rate of an Olympic-size swimming pool each week.
 
In April, Tepco warned it might run out of space to store the water and sought approval to channel what it called groundwater with low levels of radiation around the plant and to the sea through a “bypass.”
 
Any revelations about contamination of the sea are certain to bolster local fishermen's resolve to oppose the plan.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs