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Pressure Builds In Japanese Reactor
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Pressure Builds In Japanese Reactor

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Pressure Builds In Japanese Reactor

Pressure Builds In Japanese Reactor
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In Japan, technicians had planned to release radioactive steam steam Sunday to ease pressure at the troubled nuclear complex damaged by the massive earthquake tsunami. But officials changed their mind after fears that the release could further hurt the environment and endanger humans.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

Over now to the scene of the other major international story we're covering: the aftermath of the massive tsunami and earthquake in Japan. At the Fukushima nuclear complex, six reactors are teetering between disaster and recovery. Just days ago, there were fears at the complex that it might be about to melt down but now workers have cobbled together some fixes to stabilize the reactors.

Nonetheless, radiation continues to spread from the site and the Japanese public is now faced with contamination of their food and water. NPR's Christopher Joyce is in Tokyo and reports on the situation.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE: Each day at the Fukushima nuclear complex brings a bit of good news and a bit of bad. The good news today is that a fleet of giant water cannons and fire departments tanker trucks have been able to keep temperatures down in and around the damaged reactors. Crews have been inundating the site with thousands of tons of seawater.

The water has kept used nuclear fuel rods prone to overheating from burning and spreading even more radiation. And engineers have laid a mile-long cable into the site to bring in electric power for pumps and cooling equipment.

The bad news is actually outside the damaged power station. Two samples of spinach taken from a far 75 miles from the site show radioactive contamination. Samples of milk closer to the plant also are contaminated. In neither case were the levels dangerous to consumers, but Japanese media say consumers are leery of buying produce from the Fukushima area where the plant is.

And today, a shipment of Japanese fava beans turned up in Taiwan that showed very low levels of radiation. But the discovery could tarnish the reputation of Japanese exports.

Christopher Joyce, NPR News, Tokyo.

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