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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid