News / Asia

Skepticism Greets Reported Progress at Crippled Japanese Nuclear Plant

Installation work is carried out on a roof at unit 3 turbine building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima prefecture in Japan, July 18, 2011
Installation work is carried out on a roof at unit 3 turbine building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima prefecture in Japan, July 18, 2011

Japanese government agencies and the owner of a crippled nuclear power plant say the crisis is being brought under control. Some in Japan are less certain, however, in part because details remain vague about what has been accomplished and the next steps.

Japanese authorities say the second phase of their plan to bring the Fukushima nuclear power plant under control has begun. Goshi Hosono is the special state minister in charge of the four-month-old crisis.

"I assure you that although the progress has been sometimes slow, we are now on the right track toward restoring the situation from the accident," said Hosono.

Questioning progress

But the environmental group Greenpeace has doubts. It says the utility and the government have failed to meet several objectives.

The group says formal deadlines have been rushed. It also maintains that while authorities say the situation with the crippled reactors is stable, in reality it could be decades before the crisis ends.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, reporters repeatedly asked why no cumulative figures on radiation emissions from the crippled plant has been released.

Quantifying radiation levels

An official with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said another government entity now responsible for such reports probably is finding it difficult to "back calculate" the total radiation released because the density levels in the surrounding area in the last few months are so much lower.

Officials say radiation emissions from the plant are one-two millionth of the peak shortly after an earthquake and tsunami battered the nuclear plant on March 11. But Tokyo Electric executive vice president Zengo Aizawa acknowledged a lack of accurate cumulative data.

Aizawa said the damage at the nuclear plant made precise monitoring difficult, but now that the rubble is being cleared away, accurate measurements again can be made, and the data will be compiled and released on a regular, but yet undetermined, basis.

Three of the six reactors at the plant melted down after the disaster. Explosions damaged the building housing at a fourth.

Cold shutdowns, contaminated beef

Authorities expect to begin cold shutdowns of the crippled reactors in about six months. Critics say the government and the utility, though, use a more liberal definition of a cold shutdown compared with the general consensus of the nuclear industry and the scientific community.

High radiation levels forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of households. Crops, milk, seafood and fish near the Fukushima plant were contaminated by fallout. Beef from more than 1,000 cows, which ate feed contaminated with radioactive cesium, was shipped across the country. Some of the meat ended up being sold at supermarkets, served to children at nursery schools and to passengers on Japan's bullet trains.

Energy conservation

The Fukushima disaster and recent shutdowns of other nuclear plants prompted energy conservation measures in the eastern part of the country, including the capital, Tokyo.

Concern has now spread to Osaka, Japan's second largest metropolitan area. The government on Wednesday announced that because of problems with another nuclear reactor and a coal-fired power plant, customers there will be asked to curtail electrical use by more than 10 percent through late September.

A central bank top official has warned of possible economic damage, saying that power shortage casts a shadow on Japan's long-term growth prospects.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
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 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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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 Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
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.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs