Entries in Reactor (4)


Japan Wants Another Nuclear Plant Closed over Quake Fears

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan urged a power company Friday to temporarily shut down operations at another nuclear plant that straddles a major fault line for fear it would not survive a major earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said during a news conference that he requested the suspension of reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear plant over safety concerns, citing a study that said there was an 87 percent chance of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake striking central Japan within the next 30 years.

The Hamaoka plant is located in Shizuoka, 155 miles west of Tokyo, and sits on an active earthquake fault. Officials estimate the shutdown could last two years.

With the plant supplying energy to about 16 million people in central Japan, a shutdown is sure to further strain the country's power supply, already hurting as a result of the crippled Fukushima reactors. Hamaoka powers regions that include Aichi, home to Toyota Motor Corp headquarters.

"I've made this request out consideration for the safety of the Japanese people," Kan said. "If there were to be a serious accident at the Hamaoka power plant, it would have a catastrophic impact on all of Japan."

The government asked plant operator Chubu Electric Power Co. to suspend two running reactors and a third already shut for a regular inspection. The request came one day after Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda visited the plant and raised concerns about the facility's safety measures. After reviewing Hamaoka's quake and tsunami drills, Kaieda suggested anti-disaster measures in place were insufficient.

The inspection of Hamaoka and all of Japan's 54 nuclear plants was prompted by the disaster at the troubled Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The one-two punch crippled reactors along Japan's northeast coast, triggered hydrogen explosions, and radiation leaks in the world's second-worst nuclear crisis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Plutonium Found in Soil Outside Japanese Nuke Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Radiation from Japan's crippled nuclear reactors has now contaminated the ground and the sea surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi complex, as officials fear that some of the reactors may already be in partial meltdown.

Inside the plant, the problems are serious. Video captured smoke billowing from reactors two and three, a visible sign of the catastrophe happening inside.

Radioactive water has been found in all four of the reactors at the plant.

The news comes a day after officials apologized for an inaccurate reading of a major increase in radioactivity which caused a panic that led workers to flee the plant. The inaccurate reading was confirmed as a mistake Sunday night by operators at the plant.

"The number is not credible," said Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Takashi Kurita. "We are very sorry."

The mistake prompted harsh criticism from the government.

"Such a mistake is not something that should be forgiven or acceptable," said government spokesman Yukio Edano.

ABC News went to the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company to ask Kurita about the latest in a number of conflicting reports coming from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

"We are so sorry to inconvenience everybody," he told ABC News. "We are trying to stabilize the situation. We are trying to give out the most accurate information." Asked why more help has not been brought in, his response was surprising.

"I agree with you actually, but we are doing our best but at the same time the government and also many companies are economists and defense force and fire department, all sorts of people have been supporting us to calm down the situation," said Kurita.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters that radioactive water may be leaking into the ocean.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Workers Evacuated After Smoke Reported Over Japan's Plant

ABC News(TOKYO) -- Workers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were evacuated from the site Monday as smoke was once again reported over one of the plant's reactors.

A gray cloud of smoke was seen hovering over the plant's number 3 reactor during the late afternoon, prompting the evacuation of workers while authorities began investigations to determine the cause of the smoke.  No explosions have been confirmed.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Japan's Chief Cabinet Officer Yukio Edano said he's uncertain if the smoke is tied to spent fuel rods at the site.

"We do not know if there is a link or not," Edano said through an NHK TV translator.  "We're not saying if there is or not.  We are continuing to observe the situation.  And so far radiation readings, figures show that the situation is not turning for the worse."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Radiation Levels Spike Inside Crippled Japanese Nuclear Reactor -- Radiation levels inside a Japanese nuclear power plant have surged to 1,000 times their normal levels after Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake knocked out power to a cooling system, and tsunami floods have hampered efforts to get it restored.

Meanwhile, heat-induced pressure built up inside the crippled reactor, prompting widespread evacuations and stoking fears of a potentially catastrophic radioactive event.

Officials declared a "nuclear emergency" at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, about 200 miles northeast of Tokyo, when its cooling system failed to function properly after the nuclear reactor lost power and automatically shut down.

Scientists said that even though the reactor had stopped producing energy, its fuel continues to generate heat and needs steady levels of coolant to prevent it from overheating and triggering a dangerous cascade of events.

A meltdown could lead to a breach of the reactor's steel containment vessel and allow radiation to escape into an outer, concrete containment building, or even into the environment.

Japanese officials said radiation has not yet leaked from the plant, but ordered 2,800 people living around the facility to evacuate their homes as a precaution.

The Kyodo News Service has reported, however, that some radioactive material may already have escaped, citing reports from the Japanese Nuclear Safety Agency that radiation levels outside the plan have been eight times the normal level.

Experts say cooling the reactor's core to minimize pressure inside the containment structure is a top priority. Japanese authorities have been trying to connect diesel-powered generators to restore the water pumps inside the reactor but have been hampered by the floods.

The risk is a rapid rise in heat that would leave the core uncovered.

U.S. nuclear experts say modern power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis and have several security layers in place in the event of lost power, including diesel fuel generators and battery systems.

But those back-up power sources may not have worked in this case, a development many international experts called troublesome.

Nearby, the turbine building at the Onagawa nuclear power plant burst into flames shortly after the earthquake and has since been extinguished. Another plant at the facility was also reported to be experiencing a water leak, according to Japanese officials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was closely monitoring the situation at the four Japanese nuclear power sites impacted by the earthquake and confirmed that all had been successfully shutdown.

Japanese nuclear power plants have been tested repeatedly by earthquakes in recent years and operated effectively, according to the World Nuclear Association. Worldwide, 20 percent of nuclear powerplants operate in areas of "significant seismic activity," according to the association.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio