Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan Helicopters Dump Water On Nuclear Power Plant,Fuel Rods[Full Video]

Helicopters dumped water Thursday on and near the Nos. 3 and 4 units at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the latest attempt to halt the nuclear accident that appeared to be spinning out of control.

The helicopters belong to the nation's self-defense forces, public broadcaster NHK reported.Initially, just a few drops were carried out before the operation was suspended.

An NHK commentator said about 100 would be needed for the operation to succeed.During the afternoon, engineers were planning to begin the process of restoring power to the stricken nuclear complex, a government official said. The complex lost its power Friday, when a 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami hammered northeastern Japan.

The operation aims to keep the hot fuel rods submerged underwater, to prevent a release of radioactivity when they are exposed to air.Police water cannon were also set to support the effort on Thursday, along with firefighting equipment already in use.

The 180 emergency workers who were working in shifts to manually pump seawater into the overheating reactors to cool them and stave off complete meltdowns were emerging as heroes as they persevered in circumstances in which no radiation suit could completely protect them.

Japan's health ministry made what it called an "unavoidable" change Wednesday, more than doubling the amount of radiation to which the workers can be legally exposed.

The helicopter mission started under a clear sky a day after a first effort was called off by officials citing strong radiation and high winds, shortly before darkness fell.

This morning alone, military helicopters dumped around 30 tonnes of water, all aimed at the No.3 reactor, which is considered the biggest risk.The plant operator said it believed the No.4 reactor spent-fuel pool still had water and made clear its priority was the spent-fuel pool at the No.3 reactor.

Engineers have been desperately battling a feared meltdown at the 40-year-old plant since the earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems and fuel rods began overheating.

The workers at the plant, which has been hit by four explosions and two fires, have been hailed as heroes.

The US has expressed growing alarm about leaking radiation and said it was sending aircraft to help its citizens leave the country.

A Japanese government spokesman, Noriyuki Shikata, said he saw Jaczko's testimony, but could not confirm it. "I cannot comment on the basis of the testimony itself," he told CNN.

Asked about the report of a high level of radioactivity near the plants, he said, "We have not seen the level that is, for example, dangerous to human bodies beyond the very close vicinity of the reactors."

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