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Radiation near Japan reactors too high for workers

TOKYO — A pair of robots sent to explore inside Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant came back Monday with disheartening news: Radiation levels are far too high for repair crews to go inside.

Officials remained hopeful they can stick to their freshly minted road map for cleaning up the radiation leak and stabilizing the plant by year's end so they can begin returning tens of thousands of people forced from their homes after the earthquake and tsunami that struck March 11.

"I'm sure (plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.) and other experts have factored in those figures when they compiled the road map," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

Officials said radiation had spiked in a water tank in Unit 2 and contaminated water was discovered in other areas. They also described the damage to fuel in three troubled reactors.

That damage — sometimes referred to as a partial meltdown — had been assumed, but the confirmation, along with the continued release of radiation from other areas, underscores how difficult and how long the cleanup process will be.

Angry at the slow response to the crisis, lawmakers are blaming Prime Minister Naoto Kan. "You clearly have no leadership at all," Masashi Waki, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, shouted at Kan on Monday.

Radiation near Japan reactors too high for workers 04/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2011 10:09pm]
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