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March 17th, 2011
07:45 PM ET

Japan holds the line in nuclear plant crisis

CNN Wire Staff

Tokyo (CNN) - Efforts to cool one of the reactors at a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear power plant have been "somewhat effective" since authorities turned helicopters, fire trucks and police water cannon on the facility, its owner said early Friday.

Japanese military helicopters dumped tons of water on the No. 3 reactor housing, including its spent fuel pool, at the Fukushima Daiichi plant until after midnight Thursday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported. Earlier, fire and police trucks turned their hoses on the No. 3 reactor housing for more than an hour, TEPCO reported, and the subsequent steam and lowered radioactivity levels indicated progress.

Experts believe that boiling steam rising from that pool, which contains at least partially exposed fuel rods, may be releasing radiation into the atmosphere.

In Vienna, Austria, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency told reporters the situation remains serious, but there had been "no significant worsening" Thursday.

The damage to the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi has raised the specter of a multiple nuclear meltdown - the nightmare scenario more common in movies than in reality in which fuel rods cannot be cooled and the reactor's core melts. In the worst-case scenario, the fuel can spill out of the damaged containment unit and spread radioactivity and cancer-causing isotopes through the air and water.

Radiation levels at the plant dipped Thursday evening, but remained high after spiking Thursday morning to nearly 3.8 millisieverts per hour - more than a typical resident of a developed country receives in a year. But Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said 17 of 18 workers checked Thursday morning tested normal, and the one who received a higher dose of radiation required no medical treatment.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Tiffany

    Requarding the nuclear crisis in Japan: This may seem silly but is there away that a hose can be created to reach the nearest water supply and use a pump to carry the water to the reactors.
    Using a tungsten metal on the part of the hose that will actually be used at the reactors. Helicopters can drop the opening of the hose into the opening of the area and fewer people would have to actually come in contact with the radiation.

    March 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  2. Jerry Mather

    I see these towers beside the building would it not have been thoughtful to have built some kind of spray system into them for just this kind of thing.

    March 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  3. bill white

    Just a question?
    Why has'nt anyone suggested using remote roberts to look into the reactors to see how much water is actually there? Almost every police department in the U.S. have them, not to mention the military. Sure would save allot of problems they are having.

    Thank You

    bill

    March 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  4. Glen

    Robots could be the answer to help stop this melt down. Was watching about the danger to employees and if they used a fire hose to fill the cooling tanks, then he would get a fatal dose of radiation. Why do they not use remote control robots to do this dangerous work. This is Japan we are talking about, king of the robots "know" so lets use remote control Robots to do the work.

    March 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm |