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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora