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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
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