Japan to Extend Nuclear Evacuation Zone

Continuing trouble at reactor causes public to lash out at polls
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2011 3:23 AM CDT
Japanese authorities will expand the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to 18 miles, as radiation continues to leak from the damaged reactors.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.,File)
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(Newser) – With radiation continuing to spew from six damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant, Japanese authorities will finally expand the evacuation zone from 12 miles to 18 miles, reports Reuters. Engineers said they were no closer to restoring the nuclear facility's cooling system, an essential step to getting the reactor under control. They hope to seal the leaks that are sending gallons of radioactive water into the ocean today, far later than originally planned.

The continuing troubles at the Fukushima reactors have badly undermined public confidence in the government. Prime Minister Naoto Kan's ruling party lost nearly 70 seats in local elections yesterday, but analysts say the disaster will ensure he stays in office for months longer. "The great disaster was a double tragedy for Japan," said the Sankei newspaper in an editorial today. "The first tragedy was the catastrophe caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear accident. The other misfortune was that the disaster resulted in prolonging Prime Minister Kan's time in office." (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)

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