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Workers evacuated from Fukushima amid radiation fears

Last updated on: March 16, 2011 13:17 IST

Image: Smoke coming out of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, in this satellite picture
Photographs: Handout/Reuters

Workers battling to prevent a nuclear meltdown at Japan's quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant have been temporarily evacuated following fears that the containment vessel around reactor no. 3 may have been damaged. Television images showed white smoke, now thought to be steam from the reactor, drifting from the nuclear plant.

Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said the containment vessel at reactor no. 3 may be damaged and its fuel pool may have heated and produced the steam as well as radiation.

"It is likely that the steam is evaporating from the broken part of reactor no. 3. We have got advice from experts to spray water from above, but there may be some risks if we pour large amounts of water in a very small time," Edano said.

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Radiation levels considered harmful to human health

Image: Medical staff screen people at a public welfare centre in Niigata, northern Japan
Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
According to the Guardian newspaper, the level of radiation at the plant has also become too dangerous for the workers to stay on. It soared to 10 millisievert per hour -- above the level considered harmful to human health -- possibly as a result of radioactive substances emitted from reactor no. 2. The withdrawal may hamper efforts to secure the safety of the plant and avert a major radiation leak.

All reactors experiencing problems

Image: An archival photo of the Fukushima nuclear plant
Photographs: Kyodo/Reuters

All six of the plant's reactors are experiencing problems following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, in which an estimated 10,000 people have died. At least 750 workers were evacuated on Tuesday morning after an explosion ruptured the inner containment building at reactor no. 2, but 50 workers had stayed behind.

Taking shelter when possible in the reactor's control room, which is heavily shielded from radiation, they had pumped hundreds of gallons of seawater a minute into reactor numbers 1, 2 and 3.

Source: ANI