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Japan preparing to return workers to stricken nuclear plant

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSIn this image released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., smoke billows from the No. 3 unit among four housings cover four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Tuesday. Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors. Hours later, officials said they were preparing to send the team back in.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this image released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., smoke billows from the No. 3 unit among four housings cover four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Tuesday. Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors. Hours later, officials said they were preparing to send the team back in.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / NHK TVIn this photo made off NHK TV video footage, a Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter scoops water off Japan's northeast coast on its way to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Wednesday. Helicopters were sent to dump water onto the troubled reactors to cool them down, but the mission was canceled. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "We are actually supplying water from the ground, but supplying water from above involves pumping lots of water and that involves risk. We also have to consider the safety of the helicopters above," he said.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS / NHK TV
    In this photo made off NHK TV video footage, a Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter scoops water off Japan's northeast coast on its way to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Wednesday. Helicopters were sent to dump water onto the troubled reactors to cool them down, but the mission was canceled. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "We are actually supplying water from the ground, but supplying water from above involves pumping lots of water and that involves risk. We also have to consider the safety of the helicopters above," he said.

FUKUSHIMA, Japan » Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors. Hours later, officials said they were preparing to send the team back in.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who had been dousing the reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilize their temperatures, had no choice but to pull back from the most dangerous areas.

"The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," he said Wednesday morning, as smoke billowed above the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. "Because of the radiation risk we are on standby."

Later, an official with Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, said the team had withdrawn about 500 yards (meters) from the complex, but were getting ready to go back in.

The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, a blast of black seawater that pulverized Japan’s northeastern coastline. The quake was one of the strongest recorded in history.

 

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