Japan Races to Diminish Risk of Radiation Levels
Business + Economy

Japan Races to Diminish Risk of Radiation Levels

TOKYO — Six days into the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, Japanese officials began implementing a series of emergency efforts Thursday, hoping to diminish the risk of radiation leaks that have spread fear across much of the country.

The government began tackling the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by land and air, trying to cool two reactor units in particular that have raised alarm about the prospect of a larger, imminent catastrophe.

In a dangerous emergency mission, Japanese military helicopters dropped more than 30 tons of water on the plant, and soldiers using vehicles designed to put out fires at plane crashes sprayed a crippled reactor with high-pressure streams from a distance. The soldiers acted after Japanese police failed in their efforts to spray the reactor with water cannons normally used for riot control.

Members of the Self-Defense Forces, as the military is known, moved their trucks into position and began to spray water Thursday evening, taking aim at the same unit 3 reactor that was targeted by helicopters earlier in the day. They sprayed water for more than half an hour before leaving the plant.

With efforts underway to deliver water to the pools and cool units 3 and 4, work crews were turning their attention to installing new power lines leading to the plant. This would allow Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant, to operate an on-site cooling system using seawater.

The company began laying the lines on Thursday, but power is not expected to be live at the plant until Friday at the earliest.

It was not immediately clear what effect Thursday’s efforts had on the growing threat. A spokesman for Tokyo Electric said radiation levels showed a very small decrease after the helicopter missions.

As long as conditions are not deemed too dangerous, authorities are expected to continue with more helicopter drops and water-spraying ground missions on Friday.

Read more at The Washington Post.