Japan says crippled nuclear plant to be scrapped
Japan`s top government spokesman says the country`s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant must eventually be scrapped.
Tokyo: Japan`s top government spokesman says the country`s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant must eventually be scrapped.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano`s comment Sunday was the first word from the government that the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex will have to be closed once its overheating reactors are brought under control.
Closing the plant is inevitable, since the seawater that emergency crews are using to cool the reactors is corrosive, rendering key parts of the complex unusable.
Edano says the plant will be in no condition to be restarted.
Earlier, the operator of Japan`s overheating, leaking nuclear plant backed away Sunday from a tricky venting of radioactive gas from a troubled reactor as concerns grew about wider contamination of food and water.
Traces of radiation are turning up well beyond the leaking Fukushima Dai-ichi plant after cooling systems to its six reactors were knocked out by the massive March 11 quake and tsunami on Japan`s northeast coast. Radiation has seeped into the food supply, with spinach and milk from as far as 75 miles (120 kilometers) showing levels of iodine in excess of safety limits.
Minuscule amounts are being found in tap water in Tokyo and rainfall and dust over a wider area. Taiwan even reported receiving a batch of contaminated fava beans imported from Japan.
"I`m worried, really worried," said Mayumi Mizutani, a 58-year-old Tokyo resident shopping for bottled water at a neighborhood supermarket out of concern for her visiting 2-year-old grandchild. "We`re afraid because it`s possible our grandchild could get cancer," she said.
After the cascading troubles at the Fukushima plant appeared to lessen Saturday, pressure inside the vessel holding the reactor of Unit 3 rose again Sunday, dealing a setback to the government and forcing officials to consider the dangerous venting. Nuclear safety officials said one of the options could release a cloud dense with iodine as well as the radioactive elements krypton and xenon.
The plant`s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., temporarily suspended the plans Sunday after the pressure inside the reactor stopped climbing, though it was at a relatively high level.
"It has stabilized," Tokyo Electric manager Hikaru Kuroda told reporters.
Growing concerns about radiation add to the overwhelming chain of disasters Japan has struggled with since the 9.0-magnitude quake. The quake spawned a tsunami that ravaged the northeastern coast, killing more than 8,100 people, leaving 12,000 people missing, and displacing another 452,000, who are living in shelters.
Fuel, food and water remain scarce for a 10th day in the disaster. The government in recent days acknowledged being caught ill-prepared by an enormous disaster that the prime minister has called the worst crisis since World War II.