News / Asia

Crews Race To Supply Emergency Power To Crippled Japanese Plant

Reactors 1 to 4 (from R to L) of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima are seen in this picture taken more than 30km (18 miles) offshore from the site shortly before the start of the water-dropping operation, March 17, 2011
Reactors 1 to 4 (from R to L) of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima are seen in this picture taken more than 30km (18 miles) offshore from the site shortly before the start of the water-dropping operation, March 17, 2011

Japanese engineers are racing Friday to extend an emergency power cable to a nuclear reactor complex crippled by the country's earthquake and tsunami a week ago.

A steady supply of power could enable workers at the Fukushima plant to get water pumps working again in their urgent effort to cool off overheated nuclear fuel rods.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Japanese authorities have told them they have been able to lay a cable line to reactor number two at the nuclear plant.  However, it is not clear how close workers are to actually restoring power.

The U.N. nuclear agency reported the situation at the Fukushima nuclear station was "very serious" Thursday, but that the problems caused by last week's natural disaster had not become significantly worse during the previous 24 hours.  That assessment was delivered before the announcement late Thursday night that the circuit delivering electric power to the plant had just been restored.



In Vienna, an official at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Graham Andrew, told reporters radiation levels had risen "significantly" in some locations up to 30 kilometers away from the Fukushima plant.  However, in Tokyo, 240 kilometers away, radiation levels have been well below levels considered dangerous to human health.

In Washington, top U.S. military officials at the Pentagon said they are sending a nine-member team of experts to evaluate how the U.S. can help Japan deal with its nuclear crisis.

The risk of radiation poisoning has already forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people who lived within 20 kilometers of the reactor site.  Many are in makeshift shelters, with inadequate food, water and other supplies, in frigid winter weather.

For anyone still living inside a wider radius from the plant - 30 kilometers - Japanese authorities said everyone should remain indoors and take measures to minimize the amount of outside air entering their living quarters.

And Japan's Kyodo news agency reported late Thursday that a new government directive would instruct local officials to begin testing for radioactivity in domestically produced food.

Japanese authorities have promoted the idea that a restored water-pumping system can ease overheating at the reactors, but the government's chief  spokesman, Yukio Edano, warned that even then, seawater has corroded much of the original pump system and it will have to be replaced.

Three of the Fukushima plant's six reactors were operating when the quake struck, while three others were shut down for maintenance. Explosions have rocked all three of the three units that had been in operation, causing varying degrees of damage to the elaborate systems meant to contain the reactor's core material and prevent a runaway nuclear reaction.

With those fears in mind, the Japanese military used high-pressure fire hoses early Thursday in a desperate attempt to douse nuclear fuel rods that have been overheating since the March 11 earthquake disabled the 40-year-old nuclear plant's cooling systems.  If the rods become hot enough, the greatest danger is that they could melt or burn through their outer casings, which would greatly increase the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere.

Japan also used aerial water drops from helicopters, but video of the operation showed most of the water fell far from the reactors' cooling tanks, and the effort was suspended after four attempts.

Extremely high radiation levels in the near vicinity of the reactors have made it impossible for workers to approach the facility for more than a few minutes at a time.

Greg Jaczko, head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Thursday it would be a "prudent measure" for its citizens to follow US government advice to stay at least 80 kilometers from the plant -- a radius much larger than the Japanese exclusion zone. He described the situation at the Fukushima plant as "very dynamic."

Many governments are evacuating staff from embassies in Tokyo.  The United States has authorized the evacuation of family members and dependents of U.S. personnel, and promised, Thursday, that charter flights will be provide to help any Americans who want to leave Japan.

The prime minister's office warned of a "massive power outage" in the area served by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, and called on everyone in the country to conserve electricity.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs