Fukushima operator says will evacuate control room personnel (Update 1)

The operator of Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant said on Tuesday that all personnel must be evacuated from the control room at the plant’s reactor No.1 after radiation levels became critical, Kyodo news agency said.

The agency did not report the exact radiation level reading.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the container of a plant reactor may have been partially damaged, Jiji Press reported.

The company said earlier on Tuesday the problem could develop into a critical ”meltdown” situation after part of container vessel in reactor No. 2 was damaged following a hydrogen explosion at 6:10 a.m. (21.10, Monday GMT).

The level of radiation around Fukushima No.1 is high enough to affect human health, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said earlier on Tuesday.

He said 400 millisieverts of radiation per hour had been detected around reactor No.3 at 10:22 a.m. local time (01.22 GMT), four times higher than the acceptable radiation level for humans.

The No.1, No.2 and No.3 reactors are all releasing hazardous radioactive material.

All residents within a 20 kilometer radius of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant have been evacuated, Japan’s National Police Agency said.

Meanwhile, temperatures have been rising slightly in Units Five and Six of Fukushima No. 1.

Blasts at Fukushima No. 1 in northeastern Japan have escalated concerns about a possible nuclear disaster in the country, which was devastated by a powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on Friday.

Cooling systems at the Fukushima plant failed following the earthquake, resulting in blasts at Units One and Three on Monday. Unit Two also overheated on Monday, but the cooling system recovered a few hours later.

MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) 

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