Japan Nuclear Plant To Be Scrapped

In Asia, Earthquakes & Tsunamis, News Headlines

The Japanese government has signalled the Fukushima nuclear power plant at the centre of an ongoing crisis will be scrapped.

Authorities have restored power to crippled reactors in their race to avert disaster at the plant wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami.

“As the government has [nuclear energy] authorities, it’s difficult for me to say anything definite before following the appropriate procedures,” chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said.

“Looking at the plant from an objective point of view, I think it’s clear in a way if the Fukushima Daiichi plant (No. 1) is in a state of being able to function or not.

“I hope you can get it from the way I said it.”

Three hundred engineers have been struggling inside the danger zone to salvage the plant in the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

“I think the situation is improving step by step,” deputy chief cabinet secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said.

Workers braving high radiation levels in suits sealed in duct tape managed to connect power to the No. 2 reactor, crucial to their attempts to cool it down and limit the leak of deadly radiation.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says workers aimed to restore the control room function, lights and the cooling at the No. 1 reactor, which is connected to the No. 2 reactor by cable.

The most critical reactor – No. 3, which contains highly toxic plutonium – stabilised after fire trucks doused it for hours with hundreds of tonnes of water.

TEPCO said it may take days to restore power at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, which have been placed into cold shutdown or safe mode.

Power is needed to reactivate water pumps to cool fuel rods in the reactors.

If the pumps cannot be restarted, drastic measures may be required such as burying the plant in sand and concrete, as happened at Chernobyl in 1986, though experts warn that could take many months.

The Japan crisis is already rated as bad as America’s Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

Rising cases of contaminated vegetables, dust and water have raised new fears.

The government has prohibited the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture and spinach from another nearby area, and is considering further restrictions.

Tokyo, just 240 kilometres south of the crippled plant and where the government said it had found traces of radioactive iodine, has been subdued but there was no sense of panic.

“There’s no way I can check if those radioactive particles are in my tap water or the food I eat, so there isn’t much I can really do about it,” said Setsuko Kuroi, an 87-year-old woman shopping in a supermarket in the capital with a white gauze mask over her face.

“I don’t plan big changes to my diet. I only drink bottled water.”

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