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Updated: March 12, 2011 15:08 IST

Japan averts meltdown crisis at Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant

Xinhua
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In this file photo the No. 1 reactor (center) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, is seen.
AP In this file photo the No. 1 reactor (center) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, is seen.

Japanese authorities have successfully released pressure from the quake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor and thus avert a potentially catastrophic meltdown, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Saturday.

Release of radioactive gas won’t be at a level dangerous to health, said a spokesperson for the agency.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima nuclear power plants, said that venting gas from a containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor had been successful in reducing perilously high pressure levels. TEPCO will also repeat the procedure at its adjacent No. 2 plant, also faltering after the reactors were damaged by Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he couldn’t rule out the possibility of a radiation leak from the No. 2 plant.

Earlier in the day workers frantically struggled to cool the facility and restart its quake-damaged diesel generators to avoid a total meltdown, agency officials said.

The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan cut the supply of off-site power to the plant on Friday and diesel generators intended to provide back-up electricity to the cooling system subsequently failed.

Japan’s Ground Self Defence Forces arrived Saturday to ensure the safe evacuation of local people living near the two stricken nuclear plants.

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