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Japan issues nuclear emergency after massive quake damages nuclear plant

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Japan issues nuclear emergency after massive quake damages nuclear plant

2011-03-12 09:07:03 GMT+7 (ICT)

TOKYO (BNO NEWS) -- The government of Japan has issued a nuclear emergency, ordering the evacuation of people who live near Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Tepco) Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, following Friday's massive earthquake, Japan's Nikkei reported.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano initially explained that no radioactive material had been released, but the No. 2 reactor's cooling mechanism for its core had not been able to perform emergency water injections. As a result, an evacuation was ordered for residents within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the plant's No. 2 reactor.

However, during a news conference early Saturday morning, it was announced that a radiation leakage is possible, and the evacuation zone was expanded to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

After the earthquake, Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reactors automatically shut down, but their cores need to be cooled with water as their temperatures continue to rise. A post-earthquake blackout shut down the plant's regular reactor-cooling system, and its backup system ran out of battery sooner than it should have.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan went on to declare a nuclear emergency, deploying Defense Forces personnel to assess the situation and assist residents. In addition, a chemical protection unit of the Ground SDF has been dispatched from its Omiya post in Saitama Prefecture.

According to the company's Fukushima office, the radiation level inside the building that houses the No. 1 reactor has been rising.

On Friday afternoon, a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, creating huge tsunamis that have devastated parts of Japan. It was followed by a series of major aftershocks, including one of 7.1 on the Richter scale.

Tepco said the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is designed to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 7.9.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-03-12

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