Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Workers at Plant Evacuated; Fears over Radiation Leak after Explosions

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Workers at Plant Evacuated; Fears over Radiation Leak after Explosions

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES MOORE

EMERGENCY workers at a nuclear power plant in crisishit Japan have been forced to evacuate after another explosion.

The blast at the Fukushima Daiichi plant saw radiation spread along Japan's north-eastern coast.

It has worsened the crisis caused by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami which followed.

More than 140,000 people living up to 18 miles away from the power station were warned to stay indoors and lock windows as the Japanese government announced that radiation levels were high enough to damage human health.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who have been dousing the reactors at the plant with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilise their temperatures, had no choice but to pull back from the most dangerous areas.

"The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Mr Edano said, as smoke billowed above the crippled complex.

"Because of the radiation risk we are on stand-by."

Officials said today that they were considering using helicopters to dump water on to the most troubled reactors in a desperate effort to cool them down.

The tsunami knocked out the back-up diesel generators needed to keep nuclear fuel cool, setting off the atomic crisis.

Today's radiation spike was a result of a release of pressure which had built up in the complex's Unit two reactor, officials said.

Steam and pressure built up in the reactors as workers tried to cool the fuel rods, leading to controlled pressure releases through vents - as well as uncontrolled explosions.

A small amount of radiation was also detected in Tokyo, and triggered panic-buying of food and water. The earthquake and tsunami are known to have killed 3,300 people, although the death toll is expected to top 10,000, and has decimated the world's third-largest economy. …

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