Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Helicopters dump water on nuclear plant in Japan in absolute last ditch effort as world watches -- water cannons being brought in

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.

"Today, we are trying to restore the power supply using the power lines from outside," said the official with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. "This is one of the high-priority issues that we have to address."

Once the power supply has been re-established, the cooling system will be operated using seawater, he said. But he warned that the process will not be immediate.

"It will take time to restore the function of the main part of the facilities, because the pumps were contaminated by seawater and must be repaired before reuse," he said, adding that temporary pumps would be used initially.

The move came a few hours after the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission testified that spent fuel rods in Unit 4 of Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been exposed, resulting in the emission of "extremely high" levels of radiation. (read more)