Plant workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex on Monday were trying to remove radioactive water from the nuclear compound and restart cooling systems for the dangerously hot fuel.
This came about after officials warned that radiation seeping from the complex was spreading to seawater and soil. The coastal facility is located about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.
New readings show contamination in the ocean has spread about a mile farther north of the nuclear site than before. Radioactive iodine-131 was discovered just offshore from Unit 5 and Unit 6 at a level 1,150 times higher than normal, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters.
Japan's nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Safety Commission, said Monday its members - government-appointed experts who monitor the atomic industry - believe the radioactive water came from the containment vessel. The commission did not clearly state that the primary containment vessel, which protects the core, had been breached.
Gary Was, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Michigan, warned it could take weeks to clear out the radioactive water.
"Battling the contamination so workers can work there is going to be an ongoing problem," he said.
Meanwhile, a major communications blunder by the company trying to contain and repair the reactor has brought even more worries.
Tokyo Electric reported early Sunday that radiation in leaking water at the Unit 2 reactor was 10 million times above normal.
Employees fled the unit but by the end of the day, but the company said it had miscalculated. They say a new test found radiation levels to be much lower.
Botched handling of the crisis has already hurt the company's credibility. Hundreds of people rallied outside Tokyo Electric's headquarters Sunday demanding answers.
The final death toll from the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami is expected to top 18,000. Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless.
Operation Blessing Update
The Christian Broadcasting Network's Operation Blessing International teams are in Japan, working at one of the hardest hit areas of the earthquake zone.
The Virginia Beach, Va., based disaster relief organization has delivered four tons of emergency supplies to shelters and a hospital in Ishinomaki.
In that city alone, about 15,000 people have been housed in 200 different shelters.
Operation Blessing officials say they will continue to provide supplies of food, water, and clothes to the people.
Find out how you can help the Japanese people in their hour of need.