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Japanese Officials Trying To Restore Power To Fukushima

David McAlpine |
March 19, 2011 | 10:54 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Japanese officials said they are trying to reconnect power to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan and hope to have power completely restored to reactor buildings Nos. 3 and 4 by Sunday.

Power has been out at the plant since an 8.9/9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country last Friday, destroying large amounts of the plant’s infrastructure. Since then, the lack of power has caused multiple reactors to reach the brink of melting down, devoid of any method of cooling.

The Los Angeles Times reported

Meanwhile, workers had jury-rigged an unmanned device that could spray seawater on the No. 3 reactor for up to seven hours at a time and they hoped to install similar devices at other buildings. Police and military were also spraying water manually on the other buildings at the site in an effort to keep the reactor cores and the spent fuel pools cooled and prevent a meltdown that would release large amounts of radiation into the environment.

The most recent reports suggest that the heavy spraying is working and has reduced radiation levels at the plant.

Engineers had run a power line to the Fukushima plant, 140 miles north of Tokyo, from the country's electrical grid Friday night, but connecting it to the buildings at the facility has been a bigger problem than anticipated. Workers have been able to spend only limited amounts of time in the facility to make the connections, and engineers have had to laboriously go through and check all the circuitry before power is turned on to ensure that a surge of current does not create more problems than it solves.

Restoring power to the damaged plant, however, does not necessarily signal an end to the nuclear crisis. Officials are concerned the plant’s cooling pumps may have been damaged in the earthquake.

Japanese health officials have turned their attention to the country’s food supply, as a heightened amount of radiation was found in spinach and milk from northeastern Japan. Health officials said there is no major concern for public health.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

"This is the first time ever that an abnormal amount of radioactive material has been detected in food in Japan," said ministry official Ryusuke Hagiwara.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that the amounts detected in the milk and spinach would not immediately affect human health. Even so, concerns over possible food contamination mark a serious setback in Japan's attempts to contain its worst-ever nuclear accident as it threatens to widen the economic impact of the disaster to Japan's declining farming industry.

Also Saturday, Japan's science ministry said that small amounts of a radioactive substance not usually present have been detected in tap water in Tokyo and five nearby prefectures, but it said the amounts are too small to pose a threat to human health. The ministry started monitoring tap water for radioactive material Saturday, and will continue to check it every day.



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