News / Asia

    US Nuclear Officials: Japan Nuclear Plant Slowly Recovering

    Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan on Mar 21 2011
    Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan on Mar 21 2011

    U.S. nuclear officials said Tuesday that Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is slowly being brought under control after a deadly earthquake and tsunami led to at least a partial meltdown of three of the station's reactors.  They also say the nuclear energy industry in the United States is looking to learn lessons from the Japanese crisis.

    U.S. nuclear energy officials say they have been working closely with their Japanese counterparts since the crisis began, providing technical support and assistance in dealing with the situation at the Fukushima power plant.

    Peter Lyons, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said, "Current information suggests that the plants are in a slow recovery from the accident.  However, long-term cooling of the reactors and pools is essential during this period and has not been adequately restored to date to the best of my knowledge.  A massive clean up effort obviously remains for the future."

    Lyons testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  He said his agency and several others established a nuclear incident operations center when problems arose at the Fukushima power plant.

    Bill Borchardt of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, says reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima plant have damaged reactor cores and that water levels at spent fuel rod pools vary, which might pose the risk of further radiation exposure.

    "The Unit 2 spent fuel pool has now started receiving fresh water and they are trying to change all of the units from fire trucks to normal pumping in the next few days.  Tokyo Electric Power Company has restored electric power to the site and to the six reactor control rooms.  And the situation in general continues to further stabilize, although there are many hurdles that remain," he said.

    The crisis at the Fukushima plant has raised concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States.  U.S. nuclear officials sought to assure Senate lawmakers that plants in the United States are safe and that the industry will apply the lessons learned from the Japanese accident.

    The NRC's Operations Director Bill Borchardt said that more than half of the 104 nuclear reactors in the United States have already received renewed licenses for another 20 years and that the rest are expected to apply for similar licenses.  He said he sees no technical reason to slow the process.

    "It is our intent through the lessons learned programs and our continuous operational oversight of the operating fleet that if there was a design change necessary in order to adapt plants to what we are learning from Japan. We would take that action absent or outside of the license renewal review process. We would take that without hesitation," he said.

    Borchardt said the NRC will conduct a 90-day review of the situation in Japan to find what the United States needs to learn from the situation at Fukushima power plant.

    Lyons said that like the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident in Pennsylvania and the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Japan's experience will hold lessons for the U.S. nuclear power industry.  But, he said, it is too early to draw specific conclusions.

    "As detail becomes available, it will be very important to understand in detail the steps that were taken and to understand whether an alternative sequence of steps, different timing of steps, could have been more effective. But for now, that’s a little premature.  We’re very much focused on trying to help them with restoring the cooling," he said.

    David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists also testified before the Senate Energy Committee.  He told lawmakers that one of the biggest problems at the Fukushima plant has been loss of electricity - a problem that every nuclear power plant in the United States faces.

    "As at Fukushima, U.S. reactors are designed for a station blackout of only a short duration.  Eleven U.S. reactors are designed to cope with a station blackout lasting eight hours, as were the reactors in Japan. Ninety-three of our reactors are designed to cope for only four hours," he said.

    Another lesson to be learned from the incident, Lochbaum added, is the vulnerability of spent nuclear fuel rods.

    "All U.S. reactors have more irradiated fuel in the spent fuel pool than exists in the plant’s core. All U.S. reactors have the spent fuel pool cooled by fewer and less reliable systems than are provided by the reactor core. At all U.S. reactors, the spent fuel pool is housed in less robust containment than surrounds the reactor core," he said.

    As Japanese officials try to cool reactors and spent fuel at the Fukushima plant, there is concern about how far radiation from the crippled plant could spread. During Tuesday's hearing, experts assured lawmakers that radiation from Japan would not pose a threat to people in the United States.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora