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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid