Sobota, 25 maja, 2024   I   05:04:39 AM EST   I   Borysa, Magdy, Marii-Magdaleny
  1. Home
  2. >
  4. >
  5. Świat

Japan battles to stop radiation leak into sea

03 kwietnia, 2011

Workers at Japan\'s crippled nuclear plant were trying to seal a crack in a concrete pit that has leaked radiation into the Pacific as part of their battle to shut down the facility.

Along the tsunami-battered coast, 25,000 Japanese and US military and rescue crew on Sunday entered the third and final day of a massive search for bodies, more than three weeks after the catastrophe struck.

While cherry blossoms opened in Tokyo, temperatures plunged again, leaving tens of thousands of homeless shuddering in evacuation camps along the ravaged northeast coast of Japan\'s main Honshu island.

No quick end was in sight for the world\'s worst nuclear emergency since Ukraine\'s Chernobyl disaster of 1986, warned a government lawmaker who has advised Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the crisis at the six-reactor plant.

"This is going to be a long battle," said Goshi Hosono, who highlighted the threat of 4.5 metre (15 foot) long spent fuel rods that remain volatile for months and need to be cooled in pools with circulating water.

"The biggest challenge at this plant is that there are more than 10,000 spent fuel rods," Hosono said on Fuji TV. "It will take a very long time to reprocess them, and we sincerely apologise for that.

"It is unacceptable that radioactive substances keep being released, causing anxiety among the people," he added. "Probably it will take several months before we reach the point" where all radiation leaks stop, he said.

At the charred plant, crew, troops and firefighters have pumped water following the March 11 tsunami. The tsunami knocked out reactor cooling systems, which sparked partial meltdowns and chemical explosions that compounded the damage.

Radiation has since leaked into the air, soil and ocean, and the emergency water pumping itself has increased the environmental contamination.

TEPCO workers planned to use a polymer sealant to close a 20-centimetre (eight inch) crack in a concrete pit near reactor two that has leaked run-off water into the sea, after cement they poured Saturday failed to stop the leak.

"There was no difference in the amount of water running out after they poured cement into the pit," said a nuclear safety agency official overnight. "TEPCO needs to take steps to stop the leak once and for all."

The run-off from the plant has measured more than 1,000 millisieverts and is believed to be the cause for radioactive iodine-131 readings in ocean waters of more than 4,000 times the legal limit.

Authorities have stressed there is no immediate public health threat from seafood because fishing within a 20-kilometre (12 mile) radius is banned, arguing that ocean currents will quickly dilute the contaminants.

The health ministry said its latest tests of regional vegetables, fruit and marine products had found radioactive caesium and iodine in some, but within the limits set under the food sanitation law, Kyodo News reported.

A second US military barge carrying fresh water for pumping Saturday docked off the plant, where cement boom pumps have been pouring in water, a task that was initially handled by helicopter water drops and then fire engines.

In a grim discovery, the remains of two TEPCO workers killed in the tsunami were found in the facility last week, the operator said.

The wider search for victims continued along the disaster-ravaged coast -- joined by 18,000 Japanese military personnel and 7,000 US forces, as well as police, firefighters and coastguard rescue and dive teams.

The huge earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11 killed 12,009 people and left 15,472 missing, according to the latest national police count.

But the massive search suggests that many of the missing will never be found. On Friday and Saturday, Japan\'s military said, only 167 bodies were newly recovered in coastal and inland areas of Japan.