Radiation is feared to have leaked from the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, 230 km north of Tokyo, after apparent hydrogen blasts at its two more reactors Tuesday morning.
“Radiation around the Fukushima No.1 plant has risen considerably,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a nationally televised press conference, urging people within 30 km of the plant to stay indoors.
“We are making utmost efforts to prevent further explosions and radiation leaks,” Kan said. According to public broadcaster NHK, authorities have detected slightly higher-than-normal radiation levels in Tokyo, but not at harmful levels.
The wind was blowing from north to south when the incidents occurred at the Fukushima plant.
Residents within a 20-km radius have already been ordered to vacate the area following Saturday’s hydrogen blast at the plant’s No. 1 reactor.
There are six reactors in Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, which was hit by last Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that radiation levels at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power-plant shot up after the apparent blast at the No. 2 reactor at 6:10 a.m.
The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company ordered some workers at the site to temporarily evacuate from the facility.
The blast at the No. 2 reactor appears to be a hydrogen explosion, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference. A separate explosion and fire took place at the plant’s No. 4 reactor on Tuesday morning, and radioactive steam had been emitted from the reactor, the top government spokesman said.
“The high radiation level detected at 10:22 a.m. after the explosions at the No. 2 and No. 4 reactors would certainly have negative effects on the human body, Edano said.
“There is no doubt that unlike in the past. Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health. These are readings taken near the area where we believe the releases are happening.”
According to Edano, the fire at the No. 4 reactor was already extinguished.
The two incidents on Tuesday morning came after hydrogen blasts at both of the plant’s No. 1 and No. 3 reactors on Saturday and Monday.
The No. 2 reactor’s cooling system was damaged on Monday, causing water levels to rapidly fall and fully exposing its fuel rods for several hours.
The three reactors were in critical condition after Friday’s quake, losing their ability to cool down and releasing some radiation, and the operator has been struggling to safely shut down the cores at the three reactors.