Japan declares emergency at nuke plant, no radiation leak now

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:16 AM
Japan declares emergency at nuke plant, no radiation leak now

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan started to evacuate thousands of residents from an area around a nuclear reactor after damage caused by a powerful earthquake raised fears of a radiation leak, although officials said there was no sign of leakage at present.

The government declared an emergency situation as a precaution, saying a cooling system was not working.

Work has begun work on restoring the cooling function at the reactor, Jiji news agency quoted the Trade Ministry as saying.

Residents that live within a 3 km radius of Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been told to evacuate, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference. Kyodo news agency said 3,000 residents were being evacuated.

TEPCO confirmed that water levels inside the reactors at its Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant were falling but it was working to maintain water levels to avert the exposure of nuclear fuel rods.

The company has been trying to restore power to its emergency power system so that it can add water inside the reactors, a TEPCO spokesman said.

"There is a falling trend (in water levels) but we have not confirmed an exposure of nuclear fuel rods," a TEPCO spokesman said.

TEPCO had been operating three out of six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at the time of the quake, all of which -- the No.1, No.2 and No.3 units -- shut down.

The spokesman added that there were no concerns of a water leak for the remaining three reactors at the plant, which had been shut for planned maintenance.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Edwina Gibbs; Editing by Edmund Klamann)