Monday, April 4, 2011

Japan says it may take months to end radiation leaks

Workers wearing protective suits spray adhesive synthetic resin over the ground at the Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture. -- PHOTO: AP

TOKYO - JAPAN warned on Sunday it could take months to stop radiation leaking from a nuclear plant crippled by a huge earthquake and tsunami three weeks ago, while voters said a coalition would better handle the crisis and post-quake recovery effort.

An aide to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the government's priority was to stop radiation leaks which were scaring the public and hindering work on cooling overheated nuclear fuel rods.

'We have not escaped from a crisis situation, but it is somewhat stabilised,' said Goshi Hosono, a ruling party lawmaker and aide to Mr Kan. 'How long will it take to achieve (the goal of stopping the radiation leakage)? I think several months would be one target,' Mr Hosono said on a nationwide Fuji TV programme on Sunday.
In the face of the prolonged crisis, nearly two-thirds of Japanese voters believe the ruling Democratic Party should join hands with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed, potentially warming lawmakers in both camps to the scheme.

Mr Kan last month invited Sadakazu Tanigaki, head of the LDP, to join the cabinet as deputy premier for disaster relief, but Mr Tanigaki rejected the offer.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) found a crack in a concrete pit at its No.2 reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi complex at the weekend, generating readings of 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside. The leaks did not stop after concrete was poured into the pit, and Tepco turned to water-absorbent polymers to prevent any more contaminated water from flowing out. -- REUTERS

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