Japanese officials are issuing broad evacuation orders for people living near two nuclear power plants whose cooling systems have collapsed as a result of the earthquake, The New York Times reported.
Small amounts of radioactive material are now likely to lead from the plants.
The two plants, known as Daiichi and Daini experienced critical failures of the backup generators needed to power cooling systems after the plants were shut down, as they were during the quake.
An estimated 45,000 people are now being evacuated from around the Daiichi plant, where those living within a six-mile radius were told to leave. The evacuation of the second plant was for a one-mile radius because “there is no sign that radiation has been emitted outside,” an official said.
The cooling system failure allowed pressure to build up beyond the design capacity of the reactors. Radioactive vapor was expected to be released into the atmosphere to prevent damage to the containment systems, safety officials said. But officials say that the levels of radiation were not large enough to threaten the health of people outside the plants, and that the evacuations had been ordered merely as a precaution.
Read the rest of the story: 45,000 Evacuated Around Nuclear Plant, Meltdown Threat Grows.