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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid