Japan, neighbors anxiously watch wind as nuclear

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:38 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - The wind over Japan's earthquake-damaged nuclear complex will continue blowing from the south, putting residents north of the facility in the path of any radiation, a weather official said on Sunday.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), is located about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo on the country's northeast coast.

The wind will keep blowing from the south in the area from noon until early evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency official said.

The direction of the wind is a key factor in judging possible damage to the environment from radiation leaking from the plant, which was devastated on Friday by Japan's biggest earthquake on record and a subsequent tsunami.

Officials are working desperately to prevent fuel rods from overheating in a first reactor after some radiation leaked into the air. The government said on Sunday that a building housing a second reactor was at risk of exploding.

South Korea, to the west of Japan, saw little chance of any radiation blowing across its territory.

"We see no impact (from Japan's radiation) so far as the current winds are westerlies," said Lee Durk-hun, head of operational safety analysis at the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

"However, if the winds change, it could affect us, and according to our close monitoring systems, we will prepare measures to prevent any damage."

Authorities in China's northeastern province of Liaoning have begun monitoring for possible radiation from Japan, but have not yet detected any, Xinhua news agency reported.

"At present the figures are normal and Liaoning has not been affected," it quoted nuclear safety official Gao Kui as saying.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Meeyoung Cho in Seoul; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and John Chalmers)