Japan suspends work at stricken nuclear plant

first_imgFUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear power complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool overheating reactors.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who were dousing the reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilize their temperatures, had no choice except to withdraw.“The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now,” Edano said. “Because of the radiation risk we are on standby.”Radiation levels had gone down by later Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear if the workers had been allowed back in.The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, which pulverized Japan’s northeastern coastline. Officials believe at least 10,000 people were killed, and possibly many more.Since then, authorities have been struggling to avert an environmental catastrophe at the coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, 140 miles (220 kilometers) north Tokyo.Wednesday’s radiation spike was apparently the result of a release of pressure that had built up in one of the reactors, officials said, though it was not immediately clear which one. Steam and pressure build up in the reactors as workers try to cool the fuel rods, leading to controlled pressure releases through vents — as well as uncontrolled explosions.Officials had originally planned use helicopters and fire trucks to spray water in a desperate effort to prevent further radiation leaks and to cool down the reactors.last_img read more