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Work Resumes At Stricken Japanese Nuclear Plant

 Black smoke rises from reactor no. 3 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Black smoke rises from reactor no. 3 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Engineers have resumed work to restore the cooling system of reactor no. 3 at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was badly damaged by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company on March 23 suspended work after a plume of black smoke was seen rising from the overheating reactor.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said technicians had partially restored electricity to the control room of reactor no. 1 at the plant.

Meantime, Japan's nuclear agency says two of three Japanese workers who were exposed to high amounts of radiation at the nuclear plant have been hospitalized.

A spokesman for the country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the Tokyo Electric Power Company employees were exposed to "between 170 to 180 millisieverts" of radiation, higher than the 100-millisievert level considered a cancer risk.

Tap Water Scrutinized

On March 23, Japanese officials warned that Tokyo's tap water had radioactive iodine levels that were more than double the amount considered safe for infants. After the warning, residents cleared store shelves of bottled water.

Today, Jiji Press was reporting that radioactive iodine levels had dropped back to those safe for infants.

Radiation from the nuclear plant has also seeped into raw milk, seawater, and many vegetables.

Meantime, Russia has joined a growing list of countries that have banned food imports from Japan over radiation fears.

The head of Russia's consumer protection agency said that Russia had halted imports of food from four Japanese regions

The United States and Australia are halting imports of Japanese dairy and produce from the region. Hong Kong says it will require that Japan perform safety checks on meat, eggs, and seafood. Canada said it will tighten its controls on shipments of Japanese food products.

Japanese officials said today that 9,700 people are confirmed dead after an earthquake and tsunami. Another 16,500 are still missing.

compiled from agency reports