Tokyo Notes

Japan Nuclear Plant Latest

Japanese engineers battle to restore power to the pumps at the Fukushima nuclear reactors hit by Friday’s quake.

Could there be some light after the very long, dark tunnel this week in Japan’s nuclear crisis?

Engineers working at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled by last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, have been working to restore power in an effort to get pumps working again so water can be used to cool overheating fuel rods.

Reuters reports officials saying that they hope to have power at at least two reactors sometime today, although these efforts were to be suspended to allow fire engines and Self-Defence Force helicopters to continue pouring water over the reactors to help cool them. About 30 tonnes was dropped by helicopters yesterday.

According to Reuters: ‘Yukiya Amano, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, was due back in his homeland later on Friday with an international team of experts after earlier complaining about a lack of information from Japan.

‘Graham Andrew, his senior aide, called the situation at the plant “reasonably stable” but the government said white smoke or steam was still rising from three reactors and helicopters used to dump water on the plant had shown exposure to small amounts of radiation.’

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Meanwhile, Bloomberg quotes US Pacific Command as stating that the US military, which is flying unmanned surveillance drones over the site at Japan’s request, is ‘cautiously optimistic’ the damage can be contained.

It continues: ‘Tokyo Electric’s failure to end the threat of radiation from the six-reactor Fukushima plant has prompted the US to advise its citizens to consider leaving Japan and start airlifting some out of the country, while Australia has advised against travel to Tokyo. About 2.3 trillion yen ($29 billion) has been wiped from Tepco’s market value since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and a series of explosions devastated the 40-year-old power station about 135 miles north of Tokyo.’