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Nuclear Heroes; Anti-Government Protesters in Libya Frustrated With International Community; Match-Fixing Allegations
Aired March 17, 2011 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome back to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong, with continuing coverage of the disaster in Japan.
Now, we are also watching the situation very closely in Libya. Government troops launching fierce attacks on rebel strongholds as the international community continues to consider action.
And conflict in Bahrain. The recent crackdown is being called excessive, but action against protesters has not stopped.
Now, we return this hour to disaster-stricken Japan, where more than 5,400 people are confirmed dead and more than 9,500 are still listed as missing. A complex recovery effort is difficult enough, but it is being complicated by a nuclear crisis.
Now, the operation to gain control of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant moved forward on Thursday. Helicopters dropped tons of seawater on the damaged number 3 reactor, trying to stop fuel rods from overheating. The plant's cooling system was knocked out by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, but officials stressed that time is of the essence.
Now, their top priority is to reduce the temperature of that number 3 reactor. And officials hope that trucks that have spraying water in the facility will push momentum in their favor.
Now, 180 employees are there on site, fighting the threat of a meltdown, as fears grow that the helicopter mission has had little impact. And they could be exposing themselves to radiation.
At the center of the nuclear disaster, quite literally, are the dozens of plant workers who have stayed behind to try to save Japan from further harm. As Anna Coren reports, their actions are being heralded as nothing less than heroic.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As smoke rises above the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, inside is a team of workers desperately trying to stop a potential nuclear disaster.
For days, they've been working tirelessly to prevent a meltdown. And in acting as the country's last defense, they're facing exposure to dangerously high levels of radiation.
ROBERT ALVAREZ, FORMER U.S. ENERGY DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the workers at this site are involved in a heroic endeavor because there is at least fragmentary evidence that in some places on this site, there are life-threatening doses of radiation.
COREN: Initially, 50 workers stayed after more than 700 employees were evacuated, but the government says the team has now increased to 180.
The power company hasn't released any details on the workers, but a Japan newspaper reports a 59-year-old man is among them. He volunteered for the job. He was only six months away from retiring.
His wife telling him, Please do your best to give relief to the people.
For the residents who have been evacuated from the immediate area, or those who live hundreds of kilometers away, the workers' selfless actions have evoked a great sense of pride. "I couldn't do it myself," explained Yueno Tatataka (ph). "I think it's a wonderful thing they're doing because they're saving lives."
"I believe in the power of the workers," said Mayomoto Mashahiku (ph). "I just hope they can do their work safely."
(on camera): People here in Tokyo and all across Japan know only too well the sacrifice these men are making. But as the world anxiously waits to see if this situation can be contained, many believe not enough is being done to assist these workers.
JAMES WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: People have to continue to try to be there, to manage this with the hope of -- of getting One, Two and Three to a point of stability. But they can't do it by themselves. That's why I was saying, the government has to step in. And IAEA, they're supposed to be protecting all of us here and they are nowhere to be seen.
COREN: The government says it's considering seeking help from the U.S. military. But in the meantime, it's up to the workers left inside this plant to save a nation from a catastrophe.
Anna Coren, CNN, Tokyo.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STOUT: Now, given the radiation that is escaping, we are tracking the winds. Are the currents helping to push the radiation from that damaged plant out to sea?
STOUT: Now, imagine being part of a small team working to get the Japanese nuclear reactors under control. And what everyone is wondering is, are they being asked to sacrifice their own lives?
Let's speak to CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's in Tokyo.
And Sanjay, over 100 workers remain on site there at Fukushima Daiichi. They are risking their lives.
At what point does even the best protective gear not keep them safe?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that could be now, Kristie. And we don't know the answers to just how high the radiation levels are inside the plant. That's sort of the missing piece of the puzzle here. But there's no question that the workers are exposed to more radiation than the high levels that we've been hearing that are outside the plant. The radiation levels inside the plant, they're going to be higher.
You know, what these workers are wearing are something like this, a hazmat suit, maybe a mask that has a ventilator in it. They may be carrying around devices to measure various amounts of radiation within the plant. But the thing about it is, that none of these protective devices do much in terms of actually protecting people against the worst forms of this ionizing radiation, the gamma radiation. That sort of penetrates everything.
So, whether they're shielding themselves in some way, whether they're able to limit their exposure, I don't know. But they're putting out fires, dealing with explosions, turning valves. They can't even get close enough to one of these ponds to tell whether there's water in there, so that gives you an idea of how high the radiation is.
But we just don't know at this point exactly what they're being subjected to, exactly what the risks are for them, at least in the short term.
STOUT: There's so many unknowns, the situation so fluid. Now the U.S. government is telling citizens to evacuate within 80 kilometers from the plant.
What danger is there for people who are still inside that zone?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting, because you're hearing 80 kilometers from the United States government, you're hearing 20 kilometers from the Japanese officials in terms of the evacuation zones. It's arbitrary, and so there's a little bit of inconsistency there.
The concern is, if the radiation levels get high enough, could there either what's called acute radiation sickness, where people would start to have nausea, vomiting, they may have bleeding from their intestines. Any cells in the body that rapidly divide could be affected.
Longer-term risks include, you know, cancer such as thyroid cancer, such as leukemia. Those take decades to develop.
Those are the concerns, and it's a cautious approach. But, clearly, the U.S. government approach is more conservative than what we've been hearing from the Japanese so far almost a week now.
STOUT: Potassium iodide, it's been given to some residents in Japan, but there are reports many people are buying them up outside Japan, selling out in the U.S., for instance. Can taking these supplements without just cause be a health risk?
GUPTA: Well, it's an interesting question. I mean, potassium iodide is essentially a stable salt. I mean, there are people who may have allergies to it, there may be people who have pre-existing thyroid conditions, and taking this potassium iodide could make those worse.
For the most part, it's not dangerous. There's a couple of things though.
One is that there may be limited supply, so people should take it only in the face of an exposure, or an imminent exposure to radioactivity. Also, you know, once you take it, you sort of have a window of protection, about 48 hours. So if you take it too early, you may close the window too early and not get the protection that you need. So it's really a timing issue as well.
I don't think that there's any evidence at all that people, for example, in the United States, on the West Coast, will need potassium iodide. The levels that we've seen so far, even as they cross the ocean, the levels would dissipate as a result of just going down in number. And also, the activity, the radioactivity, would start to decrease as well.
So I think that that might just be a little too much in terms of people starting to buy potassium iodide and certainly not taking it in the United States. That just doesn't make any sense.
STOUT: Well, let's hope word of that gets out so that this panic-buying of potassium iodide ends, especially there in the U.S.
Sanjay Gupta, joining us live from Tokyo.
Thank you very much indeed.
And to our audience, remember, if you want to help with the relief or recovery efforts, you can try this out. It's a new feature we're trying out here on CNN International.
You can scan this barcode that you see on your screen into your smartphone, and that will just automatically take you to our Web site, and there you'll find a long list of relief agencies. Now, we'll be showing you this barcode several times throughout the show so you can have an opportunity to pick up your smartphone and give it a scan.
Now, up next here on NEWS STREAM, we'll be talking more about just the ongoing disaster, the ongoing crisis in Japan. And aid is rushing in to the worst-affected areas as the humanitarian and nuclear crises deepen.
And meanwhile, we are also following developments out of Libya. Pro- Gadhafi forces, they are pounding rebel strongholds. And Colonel Gadhafi himself warns a "decisive battle" will be fought today.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now, it looks like a critical day for rebels in Libya. Now, forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi are putting up a fierce fight to regain two key towns. You have Misrata. It's one of the few opposition-held cities in the west. It has come under sustained attacks, and it sits some 150 kilometers from the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Now, Gadhafi has said that a "decisive battle" will be fought in Misrata today.
Now, Libyan state TV has also warned of an imminent attack on Benghazi. That is the heart of the opposition's base.
Pro-Gadhafi forces have been battling hard to regain control of nearby Ajdabiya. It is their last hurdle on the road to Benghazi. State TV says that this video shows government forces within Ajdabiya. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of that information.
And this video, this was posted to Facebook. It's said to show the aftermath of Wednesday's heavy fighting in Ajdabiya.
Now, the U.N. Security Council may vote on Thursday on a broad-range resolution that could impose a no-fly zone in Libya. Anti-government protesters have grown increasingly frustrated with the international community.
Arwa Damon reports from Benghazi.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To say that people here are disappointed with the international community's inaction is an understatement. They're angry, they're frustrated, and they feel completely betrayed and abandoned. The failure of the United Nations to pass a resolution that would implement a no-fly zone, people are telling us, is nothing short, they say, of having global leaders sign their death warrants.
(voice-over): Carrying both a Qatari and French flag to show his gratitude to those two nations, Osama Mohammed (ph) says a no-fly zone must be implemented now simply to save the people. "Moammar is killing the Libyan people," he says. "The world is taking so long? Moammar is going to finish off all of Libya, and there'll be no point to a no-fly zone."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This regime is as big a threat for all the world. We are defending world peace, not just for our citizens.
DAMON: "It's already been a month of bombardment and bloodshed," Barata Ibrahim (ph) tells us. "This is the U.N.'s responsibility. If the U.N. won't protect civilian populations, what's the point of its existence? And yes, I am worried about my children," he continues. "We've already seen children massacred.
(on camera): The French flag has been hanging from the courthouse here in Benghazi since Friday, when France recognized the legitimacy of the National Council. People then happy, anticipating that the United States would shortly follow suit, talking about how they would hang an even bigger flag to thank America for its support.
Since then, they have, of course, been bitterly disappointed. Many people telling us if it's an issue of money, they'll pay for it. If it's an issue of America fearing involvement in an Arab nation, well, they would be welcomed here. They say that if America and the global community continues to choose inaction, this would be a dark stain, a very dark stain in history.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Benghazi, Libya.
STOUT: And our Arwa Damon joins us now live from Benghazi.
And Arwa, how close are pro-Gadhafi forces to the city?
DAMON: Well, Kristie, we actually headed out of Benghazi a short while ago. We've been casing reports that anti-Gadhafi forces managed to bring down a pro-Gadhafi aircraft.
We've been traveling to the west, and we have not come across any pro- Gadhafi elements. As far as we can tell, they are still fairly bogged down in the fighting around Ajdabiya. We have eyewitness reports from that city that there were ongoing air strikes, as well as heavy artillery strikes in that city.
We have also, however, heard reports that pro-Gadhafi aircraft did bomb the airport that is around 30 kilometers outside of Benghazi around three times. One of those strikes, damaging a civilian aircraft. No one, however, harmed in those attacks.
At this point, this does very much appear to be a psychological game. We heard from Saif overnight saying that this would be over in 48 hours. That, of course, causing a fair amount of concern amongst the opposition, who truly feel, as we have been reporting, that without this international support, their chances of winning this are very slim. Although they are willing to fight this out until the ends with whatever means they have, they do need that help that they are so desperately waiting for -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right.
Arwa Damon, joining us on the line outside Benghazi, live in Libya.
Thank you, Arwa.
Now, water cannons are called on to help cool Fukushima's number 3 reactor. As relief is rushed to the worst-hit areas in northeast Japan, hundreds of thousands of people are homeless.
We'll give you the latest on the crisis in Japan.
And we'll take you to Pakistan. Set free for a fee. This American CIA contractor who killed two men, he is now pardoned.
STOUT: Welcome back. And let me bring you up to date with events in Japan at this hour.
The death toll from Friday's earthquake and tsunami has risen to more than 5,400. And the number of missing people is still on the rise, now just short of 10,000.
While thousands battle just to keep hope alive, workers at a crippled power plant are battling to prevent a potential nuclear meltdown. And the pictures you're watching, they show a mission earlier today to drop tons of water on a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Now, officials are trying to prevent fuel rods from overheating and emitting radiation, but success has so far evaded them. And fire trucks were brought in late Thursday to tackle the problem by spraying water from ground level. As that fight winds down for the night, governments around the world are urging their citizens to leave the area and, in some cases, helping them leave Japan altogether.
Now, on there or online, if you're away from your TV, you can keep up to date with the changing situation on our Web site. You can find it at CNN.com/Japan.
Now, in other news, three Pakistani cricket players at the center of match- fixing allegations have appeared before a central London court today.
Now, let's get the very latest from the courtroom with Don Riddell. He joins us live.
And Don, what happened?
DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hi there, Kristie.
Yes, well, these players, their former teammates, Pakistan, are doing rather well at the World Cup at the moment. They're in quite a lot of trouble.
The three men, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, and Mohammad Asif, plus their agent, Mazhar Majeed, made a brief appearance at a court in London today. They were granted unconditional bail and told to return to stand trial on May the 20th. They are accused of cheating and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and they have got a couple of months now to prepare for a trial.
They have already been censored by the International Cricket Council following the events of the fourth test match here in London last year. Between them, these three men have been banned for between five to 10 years.
STOUT: And Don, let's rewind a bit. What actually went down in the match in question? The fourth test, England versus Pakistan, at Lord's?
RIDDELL: Oh, well, that's right. Well, they were caught in a "News of the World" newspaper sting operation in which they trapped the players' agent basically bragging about when exactly these players would deliver no balls. And the evidence was viewed all over the media back at the time with this agent caught on video. He was predicting the exact moment.
And then, the following day, when the match was played, the no balls were delivered exactly as he had predicted. So that's what this all dates back to.
The International Cricket Council was really forced to investigate and take some pretty hard action. They have already done so, but now these men would appear to be in further trouble following those events.
Don Riddell, joining us live in London.
Thank you for that.
And ahead on NEWS STREAM, our special Japan coverage continues with a look at what one of its historical political rivals is doing to show support in this time of need.
And we'll be hearing from two experts on Japan's nuclear crisis and exactly what health risks are at stake, next.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.
You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.
Now, officials at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are scrambling to prevent a major nuclear crisis from getting worse. They have helicopters to drop tons of seawater to cool down reactor number 3, but the effort seems to have done little to lower the radiation levels close to the plant.
Engineers, meanwhile, they're also trying to restore power to the plant. It has been off since the earthquake struck on Friday.
Now, in Libya, rebels say they need a no-fly zone now. Pro-Gadhafi forces are attacking the rebel-held towns of Misrata and Ajdabiya. The U.N. Security Council is considering a broad-range resolution. Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador who split from the Gadhafi regime warned that the Libyan ruler would commit genocide against rebels if the international community does not intervene.
Now, Amnesty International says security forces in Bahrain are using excessive forces on protesters. Now, the human rights group's new report says eight people have died in recent clashes. The Bahraini government says police were attacked by protesters who threw firebombs.
Now, Mohammed Jamjoom has been following this story in Bahrain until he was expelled from the country. He joins us now live in Abu Dhabi.
And Mohammed, first, your story? Why were you expelled from Bahrain?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, we simply don't know why yet. We've asked so many officials starting yesterday, when I was notified that I was being kicked out of the country. There was no reason that was given, only that it was an order, that I was being made to leave.
We had two Ministry of Information officials come to the hotel. I was told a message was going to be delivered. Then I was told that only I was being made to leave, the rest of the CNN could stay. In fact, we sent in another correspondent. My colleague Leone Lkhani is there right now on the ground reporting from Bahrain.
But we're still seeking clarification from the government of Bahrain as to exactly why. I was reporting live all day yesterday on the events that we were witnesses and what we were hearing and what was going on with the crackdown. We're still trying to figure out the exactly reason behind it - - Kristie.
STOUT: In the meantime, any more details on the crackdown, the final toll. And also, what happened in the city's main hospital where there were reports of hospital staffers being attacked by security forces?
JAMJOOM: Well yesterday that was something we followed quite closely. And it was quite harrowing to hear from -- these tales from doctors that were trapped inside this hospital. According to them security forces had surrounded the Sulamenia Medial Complex (ph), one of the main hospitals in Manama, in the capital. Security forces were there from the morning, they told us. They had blocked the entrances. They weren't allowing injured people to get into the hospital and they weren't allowing doctors to get out to treat the injured.
And I spoke to three doctors in that hospital. They described running from room to room as security forces had raided the hospital and were beating some of the medics and some of the staff members in there. It was all quite frightening according to them.
Now the Bahraini government continued to deny that. They put out statements on Bahraini state television saying that those reports were patently false, that there was some sort of hostage standoff going on in the hospital and that's why the security forces were out there. But everybody we spoke with inside the hospital refuted that and gave evidence to the contrary.
As far as today, my colleague who was on the ground there, they drove by the hospital complex. They say that apparently security forces were still outside. They weren't allowing journalists inside. We're still trying to get inside that hospital to find out more what happened and more about the crackdown and hear more from the injured who are being treated inside there and from the doctors who said that they were being beaten yesterday -- Kristie.
STOUT: And after this violent crackdown what is the response from the opposition? The opposition, I mean, including by the mainstream and the hardliners, are they still refusing to back down?
JAMJOON: Well, one of the things that's causing a great deal of concern today is that there was news that six prominent opposition party members, leaders, that they have been arrested today by the Bahraini forces. Now we got that confirmed through an opposition members earlier in the day. We're trying to get more details. We're trying to get reaction from the Bahraini government. They refused to comment thus far.
But the opposition has been quite clear in the last few days. There was a lot of concern they expressed when this GCC force entered Bahrain. The opposition was saying that the protesters there and that the opposition were seeing this as a declaration of war against them and their cause. There was a lot of concern expressed as to how this would play out.
People that were there, members of the opposition, expected that a crackdown was going to happen. They expected the fact that this state of national safety or state of national emergency however it's being called that this was going to mean that these forces and the Bahraini forces were going to crack down, that it was going to be severe. And the opposition believes that's what exactly happened yesterday. And they're concerned that it'll happen again -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right. Well, Mohammed, thank you very much indeed for your reporting. Mohammed Jamjoom kicked out of Bahrain by the government now reporting on the story live in Abu Dhabi.
Now as a single precarious nuclear plant commands the headlines in Japan, the threat it presents is almost of secondary importance to the thousands of people living nearby. Now the reason is this, the absolute annihilation of once thriving communities. Nearly 10,000 people are missing amid the wreckage and rubble, 5400 are dead. As survivors try to get their heads around what has happened here, few could begin to imagine their grim fortunes being compounded by a nuclear catastrophe. Now all this just adds to the pressure on authorities to bring the Fukushima Daiichi plant under control and quickly.
Let's get the very latest now from Stan Grant who joins us live from Tokyo. And Stan, give us a sense of what's happening inside the nuclear plant. The rescue operation there that is underway.
STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we've had these helicopter drops today, the water drops from the helicopter. There were four of those, Kristie. Then there were a number of fire trucks, water trucks as well pouring water into these reactors to try to bring them under control. Now there's been throughout the day, this process has been under way, they're not quite sure about the effectiveness, but they're looking at continuing again tomorrow. Those operations have been suspended right now.
A lot of focus on reactors three and four of course. Talked about reactor three and this cloud yesterday hovering over it, could have been smoke, could have been a cloud of gas, and some concern about a rupturing of the containment vessel, also in number four where there was a fire yesterday and in fact the day before.
There was concern about a pool which has spent fuel rods in it now, a lot of debate particularly between the United States and Japan about whether that water still sits in the pool, whether those rods are actually protected. The U.S. doubts that. And they say that's why we're seeing higher radiation levels, or that's why they believe there are higher radiation levels. Now Japan is saying in fact that there is some water in there. They can't say how much.
But it's that sort of detail -- you know, this is a whole emergency that has been played out in the detail. How badly damaged are the fuel rods. How badly damaged are the containment vessels, if at all. What about the radiation, how high is it? How high is radiation need to be before it becomes dangerous?
It really is a question of the details and getting the answers to the details that is critical -- Kristie.
STOUT: Now the evacuation range. Earlier today the U.S. called for it to be broadened to 80 kilometers. That's far more than the 20 kilometers advised by Tokyo. So is that a red flag? Has Tokyo underestimated the threat?
GRANT: Well, the analysis seems to be that the U.S. is erring on the side of caution there as are other countries. They're looking to protect their citizens in Japan and provide all the safeguards in the event of any, any possibility or the possible full meltdown of the plant.
Let's just take the figures that we have at the moment, though, as a baseline. All we can really work on here, Kristie, is the data that we receive from the government. And those people measuring, particularly measuring the radiation levels.
Now I've talked a lot about this over the past few days. And radiation levels tend to spike and then drop off dramatically, sometimes half or a third of what they were just 10 or 15 minutes earlier. Right now the last measurement was 1500 microsieverts. Now that might not mean a lot to a lot of people, but to put it into perspective some x-rays give you more than that. And as you move out further from the gate that drops away.
So according to the analysis they have and the data they have the 20 kilometer perimeter is sufficient. I've also heard scientists support that view as well. Other countries beg to differ. They suspect perhaps you need a bigger range.
But the real question here, Kristie, is the trust deficit. You can put out the information. You can have the data. If people don't believe it, they feel that trust deficit with fear. I think that's where we're at now.
STOUT: All right. Stan Grant joining us live in Tokyo. Thank you, Stan.
And for an expert assessment of Japan's nuclear crisis and the potential health risks involved for the plant workers and the greater public we're joined now by Gary Was. He's a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan, and James Cox a doctor and professor of radiation oncology at the University of Texas.
And let's start first with Gary, can you give us a sense of what is unfolding inside the damaged nuclear plant. What is your assessment of the crisis?
GARY WAS, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: It appears that we have four reactors, one through four, each one in a bit of a different state. In all cases one of the major objectives is to try and keep the core underwater, keep it cool, to prevent fuel melting. That's key number one. And I think that's what's going on right now at those reactors.
The latest problem that's developed is the spent fuel pools appear to have lost water. Those are home to lots of rods that have been taken out previously. They can also pose a problem in terms of fuel melting and radiation released if those aren't kept under water and kept cool.
So the state right now is both reactors in the spent fuel pools, the objective is to keep those cool, keep those under water.
STOUT: Let's go next to James. And the emergency workers at the plant. I mean, even if they're rotating shifts to minimize exposure, what is the health risk to them?
DR. JAMES COX, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: It's a little bit hard to know because we don't know what dose their receiving. What I believe their doing is monitoring both the dose that is measured on monitors on the individuals themselves, but they also may be monitoring blood counts to see if they're having physiological effects. And there are certain blood counts that will change rather quickly with total body radiation exposure.
So they're probably doing both. And if the findings are acceptable they feel that these people can continue to work safely in that environment. And if they're not, then they pull them out and other people go in.
STOUT: And Gary, what is the greater health risk, not just to the workers, but to the general public across Japan and also in neighboring countries?
WAS: Well clearly the release of radiation into the environment is going to be a potential health risk. Actually my colleague is probably much better able to answer that question.
COX: Well, I think the health risk, again, depends on the dose that people receive. I think there's been a great deal of concern about exposure at rather great distances. And I think that is probably less of a concern than it seems to be for some. I think the health risks of exposure to other countries is really pretty remote.
We're dealing with fission products. And we are dealing with some that have very short half-lives.
STOUT: OK. So -- but inside Japan, what is the health risk, especially for children, babies, pregnant women, are they at greater risk?
COX: The greatest risk for the children is exposure to radioactive iodine. And that is one of the products that's being released. How much? We don't know. It does, however, have a half-life of only eight days so it's going to be a risk only for a relatively short period of time. But that is the risk mostly to children, mostly to people under the age of 30.
STOUT: OK. And let's go back to Gary. What can Japanese authorities do right now that they're not doing to minimize the cost of the nuclear damage?
WAS: It's hard to know exactly what the situation there because information has been a bit difficult to get and we get it behind -- we're a little bit behind in getting that information. The key to all these incidents that are going on with each of these reactors is to prevent fuel from melting. Melting of the fuel can released radionuclides into the environment as well as breach containment. The key is to keep the fuel cool. If it doesn't melt than the chances for containment breach is considerably lower as well.
The same goes for the spent fuel pools. Those have less containment around them, very little. And the key with those is to keep water on those spent fuel rods so as to keep them cool and prevent melting.
Again, the problem is, melting can lead to the release of radiation. And if containments are breached then that radiation has a pathway to the environment. So the key is to maintain containment.
STOUT: And just to follow up on that, we've been looking at these cooling procedures underway. The injection of sea water, dumping of sea water by these helicopters, use of water cannons. Is that a wise move? Do you think that's proceeding well?
WAS: Yeah, they're hampered by the lack of electrical power on site. That's the really big issue. Mechanical pumps can't be run without power and without power their resorting to things like helicopters and fire engine hoses. It is the most prudent thing to be doing, putting water onto the reactor, putting water onto the spent fuel pools.
It's hard to know the exact geometry. Spent fuel pools are a little more accessible from the roof. The reactor is much more difficult to access. That's better done by injecting water, even sea water, right into the containment, right into the reactor vessel itself.
STOUT: OK. Let's go back to James Cox. And what can be done to minimize the cost to human health as this operation is underway to limit the nuclear damage?
COX: Well, the protection of people, whether it's workers or people living in the vicinity, is to be farther away. So any kind of a barrier such as the protective suits that the workers have, but also for the normal people being at some distance. So the Japanese government has been very cautious in setting a limit where people should be or how close they should be to these reactors and t hat's quite wise.
How far that should be and what dose goes beyond 50 kilometers or 80 kilometers, we don't have the information.
STOUT: And a question for both of you, you're reaction to Japan's handling of the nuclear crisis? And do you think any missteps have been made this last week?
WAS: From the standpoint of the reactor -- handling of the reactors, that's a very difficult question to answer, I think. The information that we have is coming in very spottily. We can see what the conditions are of those reactors to a degree. We can't see what's going on inside. And I think that's probably hampered by the fact that there's only 50 workers on the site that normally maintains well over 1,000. So information coming out is probably not, my guess, their first priority at this time.
A lack of information is the biggest issue.
STOUT: James Cox, would you like to weigh in?
COX: Well, I think the -- I think the risks are high for the people immediately in the vicinity. And I don't know how they could do more. I believe the Japanese government is -- I think the technical handling of it as good as can be. They are dealing with a series of very, very difficult situations and I think they're doing it as well as could be done.
They -- everybody acknowledges that they are the experts. The Japanese are very, very sensitive to any exposure to radiation as a carryover from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And so they are exquisitely sensitive to any possible exposure. So they are doing everything they possibly can to protect people.
STOUT: James Cox professor of radiation oncology, Gary Was professor of nuclear engineering, many thanks to you both.
Now coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we'll be speaking to a resident of Tokyo. His name is Steven Nagata, about life after the disaster and during this unfolding crisis. Stick around.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now throughout this show, we've been showing you a barcode. And if you want to help with Japan relief and recovery efforts, you can scan this barcode into your smart phone and that will take you directly to our web site. And there you'll find a list of relief agencies.
Now, we've got a Tokyo resident on the line now. He can give us some insight into the situation there in the Japanese capital. Steven Nagata joins us via Skype. And Steven, rolling blackouts are underway. So how are you going about your daily life now that power is precious?
STEVEN NAGATA, TOKYO RESIDENT: Well, it's definitely made it kind of complicated here in the capital. We are told schedules, usually daily, what sections of town will lose power. The central area of Tokyo is exempt from the blackouts. So the majority of businesses in central Tokyo are unaffected, but the suburban areas and the surrounding areas of Tokyo we're all trying to move around and adjust to those blackouts.
STOUT: Now the nuclear threat, the official line is that there is no health danger where you are in Tokyo, but what do you make of that?
NAGATA: Well, I've heard that confirmed from scientists on every channel of news. And I've no reason to doubt that. They also say that there is risk of something happening, but that there is no immediate current health risk. And I see no reason to doubt that.
STOUT: Now earlier we were talking to our correspondent there and he was speaking of a trust deficit among many people in Japan. How much trust do you have in the government and in TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear plant?
NAGATA: There always been an issue of trust with TEPCO. You know they had a lot of scandals over the years and safety is not what they're really known for. It's kind of coming down to this, it's a really tough time right now. The government is making a strong effort. And we really need to believe in something. There's a lot of external forces here as well -- the United States is here, other governments, IAEA are all here. And everyone is kind of working together.
So at this point I think we do have trust in the overall operation.
STOUT: When you said we need to believe in something, what do you mean by that?
NAGATA: Well, there's still a lot of fear and a lot of uncertainty into the future. We repeatedly -- we're still getting aftershocks. My adrenaline is pumping. We just had another 5.8 earthquake in Chiba just outside of Tokyo. And we're all helpless, we can't do anything. So when we're told...
STOUT: OK, unfortunately a rocky Skype connection there. Steven Nagata talking to us earlier about the mood there in Tokyo. Our apologies for that technical difficulty there.
Now in Tokyo, two I reporters sent us some photos to give us some perspective inside the capital. We'll bring up the first photo for you. Now this is an office district close to a shopping center in eastern Tokyo. Nicky Washida said normally this area is bustling with people during rush hour when she took the pictures. But as you can see, the streets are quite empty. Now she says many offices appear to be shutting down.
Now meanwhile, Brett Arlotti saw this in a supermarket in Normiya district (ph). As you can see nearly empty shelves there. And Arlotti said he had trouble finding bread and basic groceries.
You're watching NEWS STREAM, we'll be back right after the break.
STOUT: We have seen cars, buses and homes just tossed about and dropped by Friday's tsunami, but look at this. Now on the port of Hachinohe massive ships have been overturned or swept ashore by the force of the wave. Now this is just another striking illustration of the force of last week's tsunami just underscoring why it will take a very long time to learn the human and financial cost of this disaster.
Now many countries have dispatched teams to help Japan in its time of need. And China's effort has been especially strong. Eunice Yoon reports on how people there are putting aside political differences to show their support for a country historically seen as a rival.
EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lunch hour at this university in Beijing. Students are raising money for Japan's quake survivors, shelving their suspicions about a long time Asian rival.
"We know the situation in Japan is terrible right now, so we hope that our activities can help the Japanese victims," says organizer Jin Jao (ph). "We want them to know that there are many people who care about them here in China."
Countries across the world are helping the Japanese, but in China the giving carries extra weight, memories of World War II continue to haunt relations which deteriorated as recently as last fall over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The fact that deep seated historical animosity and the recent tensions between China and Japan people here want to help. And they're putting aside their political differences in Japan's time of need.
Japanese exchange student Nakota Hachiya (ph) appreciates the effort. He says when his friends heard his family lives in the quake zone they jumped at the chance to help.
"We are very moved and thankful for the support from our Chinese classmates," he says. "I think it shows how friendly and good a China- Japan relationship can be."
China was one of the first countries to respond to Japan, sending millions of dollars in relief and dispatching a 15 member search and rescue team.
DAVID KELLY, UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY SYDNEY: It's a very important opportunity for China to make a statement in favor of the long-term values of cooperation and humane treatment of your neighbors.
YOON: At the close of the National People's Congress this week, Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing is ready to do more.
"We fully empathize with how the Japanese people feel now. When China was hit with a massive Wenshuan (ph) earthquake, the Japanese government sent a rescue team and also offered rescued supplies," Wen said.
Many here remember Japan's rapid response to the China quake of 2008 and want to return the favor.
Still, anti-Japanese sentiment runs deep. Some bloggers have called the quake karma for Japan's past invasion and occupation of China. Most, though, sympathize with the victims and in fact praise the Japanese for maintaining a sense of order and community even during a crisis like this. Culture many here say China should emulate.
"A life is a life of equal value no matter which country you're from," says this Chinese student. "We are all humans. And we're all people. And we work our hardest to help the Japanese."
Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.
STOUT: Now let's just pause for a moment and remind you of the devastation that Japan has suffered. Scenes like this -- acres and acres and acres of absolute ruin. This was capture by CNN on Wednesday in what was the town of Kesennuma. Now this is just another sobering sign of how long and laborious the recovery from this disaster will be.
And just a reminder if you want to help you can scan the barcode that you see right here on your screen. You can scan it into your smart phone. And by doing that you'll immediately get a list of relief agencies that are now accepting donations.
That is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.