Radiation Levels 'Extremely High': US Nuclear Official

Watchdog Chief Says Japan Is Understating Dangers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2011 2:36 PM CDT
Updated Mar 16, 2011 4:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – The situation at the Dai-ichi nuclear plant is worse than Japanese officials are acknowledging, says the head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures," Gregory Jaczko told Congress, while advising Americans in Japan to get further away from the plant than the current Japanese guidelines. The New York Times sees his statements as a "serious split" between Washington and Tokyo over the crisis.

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Jaczko singled out trouble at reactor No. 4, asserting that high radiation levels are a result of exposed fuel rods there. His assessment came as a spokesman for the plant operator offered a glimmer of hope, saying that an emergency power line—one that could theoretically revive the electric cooling pumps—is nearly operational. However, he didn't say when it would be fired up, only that it would be "as soon as possible," notes AP. (Read more Japan earthquake stories.)

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