Tokyo – Radiation measurements at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were 1,000 times higher than normal after the massive earthquake in northern Japan, the Kyodo news agency reported early Saturday, citing Japan’s nuclear safety agency.
There were concerns that radioactive steam may have escaped the plant due to high pressure inside an overheating reactor. The earthquake damaged power and water supplies and disrupted the reactor’s cooling systems.
Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Kan Naoto on Saturday extended evacuations to a 10-kilometre radius around the plant. Immediately after the earthquake, authorities had set a 2-kilometre evacuation zone while telling residents within 10 kilometres to stay inside their homes.
Japan’s massive earthquake caused a power outage that disabled a nuclear reactor’s cooling system, leading to the country’s first-ever state of emergency being declared at a nuclear plant.
The threat triggered evacuation orders for about 3,000 residents.
Japan’s nuclear safety agency said pressure inside one of six boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal.
To reduce the pressure, slightly radioactive vapour may be released. The agency said the radioactive element in the vapour would not affect the environment or human health.
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