TOKYO — Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said a hydrogen explosion has occurred at Unit 3 of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit of the facility.
Yukio Edano said people within a 12-mile radius were ordered inside following today’s blast. AP journalists felt the explosion 30 miles away.
The No. 3 Unit reactor had been under emergency watch for a possible explosion as pressure built up there following a hydrogen blast Saturday in the facility’s Unit 1.
More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area.
Edano said the reactor’s inner containment vessel holding nuclear rods is intact, allaying some fears of the risk to the environment and public.
Such statements, though, did little to ease public worries.
“First I was worried about the quake,” said Kenji Koshiba, a construction worker who lives near the plant.
“Now I’m worried about radiation.” He spoke at an emergency center in Koriyama, about 40 miles from the most troubled reactors and 125 miles north of Tokyo.
At the makeshift center set up in a gym, a steady flow of people — mostly the elderly, schoolchildren and families with babies — were met by officials wearing helmets, surgical masks and goggles.
About 1,500 people had been scanned for radiation exposure, officials said.
Up to 160 people, including 60 elderly patients and medical staff who had been waiting for evacuation in the nearby town of Futabe, and 100 others evacuating by bus, might have been exposed to radiation, said Ryo Miyake, a spokesman from Japan’s nuclear agency.
It was unclear whether any cases of exposure had reached dangerous levels.