Japanese military helicopters dumped water onto the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plantâ€™s damaged reactors while emergency crews got close enough to begin dousing the reactors with water cannons Thursday, as the U.S. authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of the country.
It wasnâ€™t initially clear whether or not the water drops succeeded in cooling down the reactors, the first line of defense in preventing a full-scale nuclear meltdown. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, said radiation levels had remained the same since the operations were completed, Kyodo News reported.
Three twin-rotor CH-47 Chinooks from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces were used in the operation, working to drop seawater on the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors.
Water cannons began spraying jets of water into the Unit 3 reactor after initially being forced back by high radiation levels.
A nearly completed new power line could also restore electric cooling systems in the facility that were damaged after last weekâ€™s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. But TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda did not specify when the project would be finished. The line would allow the company to maintain a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds.
The situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi grows more dire as agencies, officials and TEPCO disagree on whether or not there is any water left in the spent fuel pools at the plant. Without water, there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down.
“There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.
The White House said it would cooperate closely with Japan during the recovery period, and President Obama spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan by phone on Wednesday evening.
They discussed Japan’s efforts to recover from last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-chi plant. Obama promised Kan that the U.S. would offer constant support for its close friend and ally, and “expressed his extraordinary admiration for the character and resolve of the Japanese people,” the White House said.
The U.S. decision to evacuate citizens from Japan shows a tougher stand on the deepening nuclear crisis. The State Department warned U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to any part of the country as unpredictable weather and wind conditions risked spreading radioactive contamination, The Associated Press reported.
The travel warning extends to U.S. citizens already in the country and urges them to consider leaving. The authorized departure offers voluntary evacuation to family members and dependents of U.S. personnel in Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya and affects some 600 people.
To read more, visit:Â http://foxnews.com/world/2011/03/17/helicopters-dump-water-japans-crippled-nuclear-power-plant/#ixzz1GrHocpnI
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