Japan poised to decommission damaged nuclear power plant (3)

08:52, April 01, 2011      

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Meanwhile, Japanese authorities on Thursday rejected calls for expanding the 20-km evacuation zone around the radiation-leaking nuclear power plant, but promised a swift response if the situation continued to worsen.

The decision was announced after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday urged Japan to expand the off-limits zone after radiation levels detected at a village some 40 km from the Fukushima nuclear complex were found to exceed recommended levels.

"We have no plans to immediately evacuate people, but naturally, high radiation levels in soil, if continued over a long period of time ... if need be, (we will) take steps to deal with it," Edano said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear safety agency said that the level of radioactive iodine in the sea near the ravaged nuclear plant had surged to a new high of 4,385 times the legal limit.

"We will do our utmost to stop it from rising," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, adding that the contaminated water posed no immediate threat to human health.

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