Japan Orders Evacuation From Near Nuclear Plant After QuakeMarch 11, 2011, 9:17 AM EST
By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Yuji Okada
(Updates with comments from Cabinet secretary in second paragraph.)
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- About 5,800 residents near a Tokyo Electric Power Co. atomic plant were ordered to evacuate because of a possible radiation leak and the failure of the cooling system after Japan was struck by a powerful earthquake.
People within 3 kilometers (2 miles) of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were told to evacuate, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in Tokyo today. Residents within 10 kilometers were told to stay indoors, said Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman at the Emergency Information Center of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Emergency power supply at the 4,696-megawatt plant 210 kilometers north of Tokyo failed after the quake triggered automatic shutdowns of the reactors, officials at the trade ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told reporters without identifying themselves. Power is needed to keep cooling the reactor to prevent rising pressure and damage, they said.
A battery, which can last about eight hours, is being used to cool the reactor for now, the agency officials said. Another six batteries have been secured, and the government may use military helicopters to fly them in, they said.
The 8.9-magnitude quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time and unleashed a tsunami as high as 10 meters, engulfing towns along the northern coast and killing at least 26 people. The temblor, the biggest in more than a century, hit 130 kilometers off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, at a depth of 24 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Survey said. A 7.1-magnitude aftershock followed at 4:25 p.m., it said.
Tokyo Electric is still seeking government approvals for a full restart of the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s biggest, which was shut after being damaged by an earthquake in 2007. The company posted its first loss in 28 years after it was forced to buy fossil fuels at record prices to make up for lost nuclear output.
--With assistance from Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo. Editors: Alex Devine, Stephen Cunningham
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