Japan to Distribute Iodine Tablets Near Nuclear Plant

Officials downplay danger, say it's only a precaution

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2011 11:46 AM CST

(Newser) – If it's been tough to gauge how much risk is posed by Japan's damaged nuclear plants, it's because officials have given what the New York Times describes as "confusing accounts" of exactly what's going on. Safety officials say the explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant destroyed walls of the building where the reactor is located, but not the metal housing enclosing the reactor, notes AP. The blast released radioactive material, but officials say the amounts are so small the public isn't endangered. Nevertheless, they widened the evacuation zone, warned people to stay inside, and prepared to distribute iodine tablets.

  • Reuters rounds up assessments of experts, but the bottom line seems to be that more information is needed. "We don't know enough about what the status of the fuel is in the reactor core," says one. "The issue is whether the core is uncovered, whether the fuel is breaking up or being damaged, or whether the fuel is melting."
  • The Washington Post talks to one doctor who arrived from Germany to provide relief, but is curtailing plans to go too far north. "I'd rather be working with a pocket knife in Haiti than worrying about the danger of a radioactive cloud."

In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke rises from Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke rises from Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/NTV Japan via APTN)
Police officers wearing gas masks patrol in the area of the Fukushima power plant's Unit 1.
Police officers wearing gas masks patrol in the area of the Fukushima power plant's Unit 1.   (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Kaname Yoneyama)
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