Friday, March 18, 2011

As Japan strives to cool reactors, UN warns situation 'very serious'

Emergency workers frantic to regain control of Japan's dangerously overheated nuclear complex turned to increasingly elaborate methods Thursday to cool nuclear fuel rods at risk of spraying out more radiation.

They tried with police water cannons, heavy-duty firetrucks and military helicopters dropping bucket after enormous bucket of water onto the stricken system.

By nightfall, it wasn't clear if anything had worked, and the United Nations nuclear agency warned the situation was “very serious.”

U.S. and Japanese officials gave differing assessments of what was happening at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 220 kilometres north of Tokyo. The top U.S. nuclear regulatory official warned of possible high emissions of radiation while the U.S. ambassador urged Americans within 80 kilometres of the plant on the tsunami-savaged northeastern coast to leave the area or at least remain indoors. (read more)