Japanese Officials Monitor Radiation After Blast at Reactor

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

An official says three people being evacuated from an area near a damaged Japanese nuclear plant have been exposed to radiation.

The official says the three were in a group of evacuees who had
waited in a school yard to be picked up by a helicopter.

Residents in a 12-mile radius of the plant are being evacuated
because the plant began releasing radiation after yesterday's
earthquake knocked out its cooling system.

Today, an explosion at the plant shattered the walls of a building where a nuclear reactor is located.

But an official says the reactor's metal housing remains intact and there was no increase in radiation around the plant after the blast. In fact, the official says radiation levels actually decreased, along with
the pressure.

Before the explosion, operators had detected eight times the
normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal
inside the unit's control room.

Officials say the explosion was caused by hydrogen interacting
with oxygen outside the reactor.

The hydrogen was formed when the superheated fuel rods came in contact with water being poured over the reactor to cool it and prevent a meltdown.

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