Chinooks deluge Japan’s damaged nuclear complex
March 18, 2011, Tokyo - CH-47 Chinooks from Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force resumed dumping water today into the dangerously overheated Fukushima Dai-ichi complex 140 miles north of Tokyo in an effort to cool nuclear fuel rods there and prevent them from spewing more radiation.
Japanese officials also were reported to be using police water cannons and heavy-duty fire trucks to cool reactors and spent-fuel pools at the complex, which was severely damaged by a tsunami that followed the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off that island nation’s east coast March 11 and subsequent fires and explosions in the facility. The twin natural disasters are estimated to have killed more than 10,000 people and left hundreds of thousands in the region homeless.
It remains unclear whether any of the attempts have sufficiently cooled the facility’s nuclear fuel to preclude additional and more intense radiation emissions. Japan has told people within 12 miles of the complex to evacuate. The U.S. urged Americans within 50 miles of the complex to leave, and today began flying out citizens wishing to leave. The governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong have urged their citizens to leave Tokyo and areas to its north.
Japanese defense ministry officials said the helicopter crews were limited to missions of 40 minutes to minimize their radiation exposure. Other helicopter crews performed numerous rescues of people throughout northeastern Honshu, the largest island in the nation.