Radiation levels rose to around 20 times normal levels in Tokyo on Tuesday morning, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said. The government gave assurances that this level posed no immediate threat to human health and that the public should remain calm.
The spike in radiation occurred after the third explosion in four days at the earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima Cai-ichi nuclear power plant, early on Tuesday.
Around eight hours after the explosion, the U.N. weather agency said winds were dispersing radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan and other Asian countries.
Radiation levels in Saitama, close to Tokyo, were 40 times normal levels. Officials said this was not enough to harm human health.
Japan officials informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that a spent nuclear fuel storage reservoir caught fire at a reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and radioactivity had been “released directly into the atmosphere”. The fire was later extinguished.
Radiation levels also rose slightly in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday but stayed within normal levels, local officials said. Russia’s military was on alert, ready to evacuate people from Russia’s Sakhalin island if it became necessary, which is close to the northern tip of Japan.
Wednesday (March 16, Japan time) Nuclear Power Plant Update
Around 10:00am on Wednesday (Japan time), smoke was again seen billowing from the nuclear plant. Officials held a press conference to update the media and public on the developing situation.
It was said that white smoke was now coming from the number 3 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactor. The cause was not yet known, but was being investigated. Radioactivity levels at the plant have been fluctuating throughout the morning. They reached the millicievert level at one stage but dropped back to microsievert levels again.
It is assumed, but not confirmed at the time, that radioactive vapor is escaping from the damaged containment vessel. There has been no report of a further explosion.
In addition, the number 5 and 6 reactor temperatures are starting to rise and every effort is being made to cool them down.
For ongoing updates, see Info On Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Fukushima Japan – Live Video and Text Updates.