Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Japan battles to prevent nuclear catastrophe

Houses are in flames while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area
Houses are in flames while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area
Houses are in flames while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area
In this image made from Japan's NHK television, a house is sticks out from scattered debris as the area is submerged in Minami Soma, Fukushima prefecture (state), Friday, March 11, 2011 after a ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coasts
A bride and groom from Japan walk in the lobby of the Sheration Waikiki Hotel, Friday, March 11, 2011 in Honolulu. A ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it carried away ships, cars and homes, and triggered widespread fires that burned out of control. Hours later, the waves washed ashore on Hawaii and the U.S. West coast, where evacuations were ordered from California to Washington but little damage was reported
An aerial view shows residential area affected by tsunami in Sendai, northern Japan Saturday, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 11: (L - R) Leighana Murphy and Ted Lanpher walk across a portion of a beach between tsunami surges on March 11, 2011 in Half Moon Bay, California. A tsunami warning for Northern California has been issued and a voluntary evacuation is in effect in Half Moon Bay. (Photo by Kim White/Getty Images)
Black smoke raises from a building during a fire in Tokyo after one of the largest earthquakes on record slammed Japan's eastern coasts Friday, March 11, 2011
Smoke rises from burning facilities in an industrial zone in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Frida
Gas storage facilities burn in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
Black smoke rises from burning buildings in a factory zone in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
A local resident walks through debris in Rikuzentakata, Iwate, northern Japan Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
Smokes billow from an residential area in Sendai, northern Japan Saturday, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
An elderly man is carried by a Self-Defense Force member in the tsunami-torn Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011, one day after strong earthquakes hit the area
A man looks over tsunami-drifted debris and mud filling rice paddies in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
Smoke rises from Tagajo city as it is observed from Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
A woman, carrying a child on her back, walks over tsunami-drifted debris and mud in Rikuzentakada, Iwate Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
Buildings burn in Yamada town, Iwate prefecture (state) after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit Friday March 11, 2011
Giant fireballs rise from a burning oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
In this image fromJapan's NHK TV video footage, vehicles are washed away by tsunami in coastal area in eastern Japan after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, ships and boats are washed ashore in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefectur, Japan
An oil refinery burns in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.
Hotel employees gather at the hotel's entrance in Tokyo, Japan as an earthquake hits Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
People at a book store react in Sendai, northern Japan as an earthquake hits Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter.
An area is flooded by tsunami in Iwaki as Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan reacts during an upper house budget committee session at parliament in Tokyo, Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011. Kan said earlier in the day he will not resign after acknowledging that his campaign office had unknowingly received illegal donations from a foreign supporter _ days after his foreign minister stepped down for a similar reason. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
People at a book store react as the store's ceiling falls in Sendai, northern Japan Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, FOR COMMERCIAL USE ONLY IN NORTH AMERICA
Office workers in Tokyo's Shiodome district near Tokyo Bay stay on the pedestrian deck Friday, March 11, 2011, shortly after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake has struck off Japan's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Reporters at the Associated Press Tokyo Bureau in Tokyo take shelter under a table while a strong earthquake strikes eastern Japan Friday afternoon, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Japan was fighting to avert a nuclear disaster last night as it declared a state of emergency and evacuated thousands near a damaged plant.

As officials conceded that radiation levels had risen inside one damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power station, there were fears of a leak with reports that the authorities were planning to release radioactive vapour to ease pressure on the reactor.

Troops trained to deal with nuclear, biological and chemical disasters were deployed to the plant, while US Air Force planes were dispatched to deliver coolant to try to control a rise in the temperature of the facility's nuclear rods.

An eighth of the world's nuclear power reactors are in Japan, and yesterday three plants were reported to have received some damage after the 8.9 earthquake ravaged parts of the country.

A fifth of the country's nuclear power-generating capacity was closed down. The most serious problem was at the Fukushima No 1 reactor; a fire broke out at another plant and a third was said to be leaking water.

Yesterday almost 3,000 residents in Onahama City were ordered to evacuate as Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) confirmed that pressure inside a reactor at Fukushima had risen after a cooling system was knocked out by the earthquake. By late yesterday, radiation levels were increasing within the turbine building and the pressure had risen to 1.5 times its designed capacity. The company said it had been trying to restore its emergency power system so it could reverse the falling water levels inside the reactors and avert the exposure of nuclear fuel rods.

Last night Japan's nuclear safety agency said it was going to release vapour with a radioactive element to ease the pressure but insisted it would not affect humans or the environment.

Everyone within a two-mile radius of the plant, 170 miles north-east of Tokyo, was told to leave the area after a state of emergency was declared at a nuclear power plant for the first time in Japan. Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano insisted that the alert was a matter of precaution.

Experts said there could be radiation leakage if water levels in the reactor fell and the temperature of the nuclear rods rose, but warned against panic.

“Even if fuel rods are exposed, it does not mean they would start melting right away,” Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of Energy Economics told Reuters. “Even if fuel rods melt and the pressure inside the reactor builds up, radiation would not leak as long as the reactor container functions well.”

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz