5 Apr 2011

Japan seeks Russia's help to contain nuclear damage

10:13 pm on 5 April 2011

Japan has asked Russia to send a floating radiation treatment plant used to decommission nuclear submarines to help contain the damage from its crippled nuclear power plant.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant was badly damaged after an earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated much of northeast Japan on 11 March.

Russia's Interfax news agency reports the floating radiation treatment plant has been used to decommission submarines in Vladivostock.

It solidifies contaminated liquid waste with chemicals and stores it in a cement form, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, engineers have been forced to dump thousands of tonnes of toxic water from the plant into the Pacific. The water has a radiation level about 100 times the legal limit.

Engineers are also using bath salts as a dye to try to find the source of the radioactive leaks but are no closer to regaining control of the facility or stopping the leaks.

They also plan to build two giant "silt curtains" made of polyester fabric in the sea to block the spread of more contamination from the plant.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami has left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing, and thousands remain homeless.

Schoolchildren chcked for radiation

Japanese authorities have started an emergency programme to measure radiation levels in school playgrounds.

Many parents have expressed safety concerns following the crisis at the nuclear plant, the BBC reports.

Radiation levels are being checked in the playgrounds of 1400 schools the Fukushima prefecture outside the 20km exclusion zone set up by the government around the plant.