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Japanese PM says blast at stricken plant causes radiation leak, radiation detected in Tokyo

03-15-2011 16:25 BJT Special Report:9.0 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Japan |

TOKYO, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Tuesday that radioactive levels have become high around an earthquake-stricken nuclear power plant following a hydrogen explosion at the site and there was a high risk of radiation leaking into the atmosphere.

In a nationally televised address to the public, the prime minister urged people within 30 kilometers of the facility, located about 220 kilometers north of Tokyo, to remain indoors, not to collect washings hanging outside and to switch off air- conditioners to avoid air exchange with airborne radioactive substances.

"A worrisome situation remains but I hope to take the lead in overcoming this crisis." Kan said.

"I will take all measures so that damage will not expand," he said.

The prime minister also called for the people of the nation to "remain calm."

Kan's remarks followed an explosion at the troubled No. 2 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant on Tuesday morning during which a critical container vessel was apparently damaged, according to the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Co. ( TEPCO).

The prime minister confirmed that the radiation level had risen substantially since the blast and the risk that radiation will leak has also increased.

The radiation level following the latest blast at the Fukushima No. 1 plant exceeded the legal limit to reach 965.5 micro sievert per hour at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The reading then leapt to 8,217 micro sievert at 8:31 a.m., the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

The latest levels reported radiation levels are more than eight times the 1,000 micro sievert level to which people can safely be exposed to in one year, the agency said.

Radiation was measured at 400 millisievert near the No.3 reactor and at 100 millisievert near the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima nuclear plant around midday, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that radiation levels around the troubled No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima plant were at levels considered "dangerous to humans," but said the readings came from the immediate vicinity of the reactor and levels would dissipate the further away from the reactor people were.

Local media reported that radiation of up to nine times the normal level were briefly detected in the Kanagawa Prefecture, part of the greater Tokyo region.

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