Secretary Chu says Americans 'in no danger' from Japanese nuclear reactors
The nuclear crisis in Japan grew more troubling Sunday as efforts to control the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power facility continued to hit unexpected roadblocks. But Energy Secretary Steven Chu says Americans "are in no danger" from radiation.
The nuclear crisis in Japan grew more troubling Sunday as efforts to control the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power facility continue to hit unexpected roadblocks nine days after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out its power and caused its six reactors to overheat and leak, threatening the region with radiation exposure.Skip to next paragraph
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Electrical power remains out at the plant although officials said they hoped to have parts of the facility back online Sunday. Bringing electricity back will return power to the reactor buildings, but officials say the hydrogen explosion that occurred after the earthquake damaged cooling pumps in three of the six reactors beyond repair.
On television talk shows Sunday, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu gave his assessment of the current situation.
"I think there is suspicion of damaged fuel rods in the reactors themselves," Sec. Chu said on CNN’s State of the Union. "But the issue here now is whether the containment vessels are intact. And the main containment vessels in two of them we believe are intact. We don't know the status of the third one."
"The people in the United States, US territories, are in no danger," Chu said on Fox News Sunday. "It's unlikely they will be exposed to danger."
By midnight Saturday, workers had rigged an unmanned device that sprays seawater into one of the six reactors, which cooled it down, an effort meant to prevent a meltdown that could release a large amount of radiation into the surrounding area. The effort is considered a test that could be used on subsequent reactors.
While temperatures at two of the reactors dropped Sunday, an unexpected rise in pressure inside a third reactor caused officials to scramble for a solution, an indication that the crisis is likely to continue through this week.
“Even if certain things go smoothly there would be twists and turns," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told the Associated Press Sunday. “At the moment, we are not so optimistic that there will be a breakthrough.”
One sign of good news is the weather forecast: Rain is expected early this week, which officials say could localize the radiation contamination close to the plant and prevent it from spreading.
In the US, the situation is forcing a review of all US nuclear power plants to ensure they are compliant with safety standards and would remain stable in the case of an earthquake or other environmental disaster.