Entries in Fukushima Daiichi (66)


More Radioactive Water Spotted Leaking from Japan's Fukushima Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has leaked into the Pacific, yet again.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says workers spotted water spilling out of a broken pipe connected to the wastewater treatment system on Thursday.

The water contained high levels of the radioactive material strontium, and TEPCO estimates tons have already leaked into the ocean.

The company has struggled to control contaminated water leaks at the Fukushima plant since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns last March.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Worker at Japan's Crippled Nuke Plant Collapses, Falls into Coma

TR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March, spurring a nuclear crisis, three workers have died.  Now, a man in his 60s is the latest plant worker to have fallen victim.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, says the worker is in a coma after collapsing on the job Monday.  According to the operator, the man was pouring concrete for a tank to hold radioactive materials, when he complained of sickness and later passed out.

TEPCO is trying to confirm just how long the man had been working at nuclear plants and how much radiation to which he'd been exposed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan’s Crippled Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Cold Shutdown

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan’s prime minister announced Friday that cold shutdown has been achieved at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the reactors “have reached a state of cold shutdown to the point where the accident is now under control.”  Cold shutdown means the reactors have stayed at temperatures below the boiling point for some time.  Experts say significant work still needs to be done and the process will take years.

The reactors’ cooling systems failed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan this past March.  A series of explosions rocked the plant and a resulting plume of radioactive particles displaced some 80,000 people who lived within a 12-and-a-half-mile radius of the plant.

The government has still not decided when evacuated residents of the area can return to their homes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Monkeys to Track Fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Wild monkeys have been enlisted by Japanese researchers to obtain detailed readings of radiation levels in forests near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Professor Takayuki Takahashi and his team of scientists at Fukushima University are fitting nearly 1,000 animals with radiation meters and GPS transmitters in order to track the spread of radiation leaked from March’s nuclear accident -- the worst in Japan’s history.

Until now, radiation monitoring has been conducted primarily by air, using helicopters equipped with testing devices.  Takahashi says aerial monitoring can track radiation across a wide area, but it only gives a general idea of radiation levels on the ground, not specifics on its movement.

“The monkeys can help us get more accurate readings in areas that aren’t so accessible,” Takahashi said.  “We’ll get a better idea of how radiation is spread by rain, by plants, by rivers in the forest.”

Researchers also hope to monitor the amount of radiation exposure in wild animals.

The project is being launched in partnership with Minamisoma, one of the cities hardest hit by the nuclear disaster.  Radiation fears prompted more than half of its 67,000 residents to evacuate in Fukushima’s aftermath.  A third of the city sits inside the 12-mile government mandated exclusion zone deemed too dangerous for people to live in.  In the larger Fukushima prefecture, more than 80,000 residents have been displaced by the nuclear disaster.

With 14 monkey colonies in Minamisoma’s forests alone, Takahashi is hopeful his researchers will get a broad spectrum of readings, from the ground level to the highest trees.  The collars equipped with radiation meters and GPS transmitters will be detachable by remote control, but the plan is to keep the devices on the animals for decades.

Takahashi says his team will begin monitoring levels next spring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Director of Japan's Crippled Nuke Plant Diagnosed with Cancer

JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The director of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, who abruptly resigned last month, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Masao Yoshida disclosed his condition to workers at the plant on Friday and TEPCO, the plant's operator, confirmed it at a press conference in the afternoon.  The severity of Yoshida's cancer, however, has not been revealed.

Citing a doctor at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, TEPCO said the cancer was not likely triggered by radiation exposure, adding that it usually takes five to 10 years for a person to develop cancer from radiation.

TEPCO also said that Yoshida had been exposed to 70 millisieverts of radiation since the nuclear disaster began in March, which is below the 100 mSv limit for emergency workers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan's Fukushima Plant Director Stepping Down After Falling Ill

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The director of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and will step down later this week, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said Monday.

TEPCO has not said whether the illness is related to radiation, and has refused to release the amount of Masao Yoshida’s radiation exposure, citing privacy issues -- though they’ve revealed numbers for previous employees.

According to the newspaper Sankei, Yoshida sent a letter to workers saying doctors detected an illness at a recent checkup and advised him to seek treatment right away.

The 56-year-old has headed the nuclear plant since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan in March, triggering the country's worst nuclear disaster.  Yoshida led the effort to stabilize the reactors that were damaged as a result.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan: New Questions over Stability of Fukushima Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Small traces of radioactive gas associated with nuclear fission have been detected at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, reigniting concerns about the stability of its reactors.

Xenon 133 and Xenon 135, both substances that are produced during nuclear fission of uranium, were first detected inside the containment vessel of reactor number 2 Tuesday. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, began injecting water and boric acid into the vessel overnight to prevent a chain reaction.

TEPCO maintains there has been no change to the reactor’s temperature, pressure or radiation levels.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said another meltdown was unlikely, considering the low density of xenon, and unchanged temperatures at the reactor.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the small amounts of radioactive gas released from reactor 2 did not pose a public health risk.

The setback comes nearly eight months after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan’s worst nuclear disaster. Three Fukushima reactors suffered a core meltdown in March, spewing large doses of radiation within a 12-mile radius, and displacing more than 80,000 residents.

The short half life of xenon 133 (5 days) and xenon 135 (9 hours) indicate the nuclear fission occurred recently, but TEPCO dismissed the possibility of a “major criticality incident” with a sustained nuclear reaction.

The recent activity raises questions about the reactors’ stability, and the utility’s ability to reach a state of cold shutdown by the end of the year, its stated goal. On Tuesday, nuclear crisis Minister Goshi Hosono announced he would allow media into the Fukushima plant for the first time since March 11, saying the reactors had stabilized.

A government panel has said it will take more than 30 years to safely close the plant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deadly Typhoon Roke Heads Toward Earthquake-Stricken Japan (file photo)(TOKYO) -- At least four people are dead in Japan as yet another powerful typhoon tears through the country, readying to batter the same coast that was hit earlier this year by an earthquake and tsunami.

Roke -- the fifteenth typhoon of the 2011 Pacific season -- made landfall in central Japan Wednesday afternoon and is on path to hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled in March by the twin disasters.  TEPCO, the operator of the plant, said it suspended work to cover one of the reactors as a precaution.

More than a million people in Nagoya have been forced to evacuate as heavy rainfall there threatens to trigger more landslides and flooding.  Toyota, which is headquartered in the city, also announced it's suspending operations at plants in the region as a precaution.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Prime Minister Officially Steps Down

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan officially stepped down from his post Friday, setting up the country to elect its sixth prime minister in five years.

Kan announced his intention to resign in June amid mounting criticism over the government's slow response to Japan's triple disasters -- the March earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear crisis that ensued when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled.

He held off on the resignation until parliament passed a renewable energy bill that reduces the country's reliance on nuclear energy and a budget financing bill.  Both were passed earlier, paving the way for him to leave office.

Kan steps down as Japan's prime minister after being in office for just over a year.  Despite his short term, he held the leadership post longer than any of the previous four prime ministers.

Japan's ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, is expected to vote for its sixth leader on Monday.  Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and current Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda are considered the favorites to win.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hiroshima Marks 66th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images(HIROSHIMA, Japan) -- The city of Hiroshima honored the 66th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Saturday.

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m. at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the atomic bomb domb. Over 70,000 people were killed the instant the bomb detonated, and another 70,000 were killed in the following weeks -- most from radiation poisoning.

This year's anniversary is especially poignant given the recent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March tsunami.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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