Added by James Morley on April 1, 2011
A decision has been made to decommission Japan’s tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while plans to expand the evacuation zone are being discussed.
Kyodo news on Thursday reported that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan had announced that the facility at the centre of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago must be decommissioned.
French nuclear group Areva said it would increase assistance to the plant, and the U.S. has ordered a Marine emergency response unit to Japan. Officials have indicated that the plant will be retired as soon as the situation is stabilised.
While the United Nations atomic watchdog reported that radiation levels some 40km from the plant had reached evacuation levels, Japan’s top government spokesman Yukio Edano told reporters “I don’t think that this is something of a nature which immediately requires such action.”
Greenpeace and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have voiced concerns over radiation levels in the Iitate village – where readings of two megabecquerels per square metre have been recorded -, saying that residents, in particular children and pregnant women, should leave the area.
Denis Flory, IAEA’s head of nuclear safety and security, said his agency has no mandate to order nations to act, but they have advised Japan to “carefully assess the situation, and they have indicated that it is already under assessment”.
Meanwhile, workers at the Fukushima plant continue efforts to stabilise reactors. Water has been pumped in to submerge and cool partially-melted fuel rods and workers are now struggling to safely dispose of thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated run-off water.