Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters drop water on Reactor 3 and Reactor 4 of Fukushima nuclear plant, March 17 2011. CH-47 Chinook helicopter is capable of dropping 7.5 tonnes of water. Four loads were tried from 0948 AM in order to minimize the crews' exposure to radiation.
The crews, using CH-47 Chinook helicopters, worked in 40-minute shifts to limit their exposure. However, strong winds appeared to blow much of the water from the target, limiting the dangerous operation's effectiveness.
"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," chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
If Jaczko is correct, the outer shell of the rods could explode with enough force to propel radioactive fuel over a wide area.
The U.S. is calling on Americans in Japan to stay at least 80 kilometres away from the plant, while Japan's official evacuation zone is only about 20 km. The Obama administration has also authorized plans to transport Americans out of the country as radiation fears grow.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said they were close to completing a new power line that could power cooling systems to end the crisis at the nuclear plant.
When completed, it will restore power to pumps that will send a steady supply of water to the six reactors, cooling down any fuel cells.
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