Japan sees lower radioactivity level at plant: IAEA

Japan nuclearVIENNA (Reuters) – Japan told the U.N. atomic watchdog there was an initial increase in radioactivity around a quake-hit nuclear plant on Saturday but levels "have been observed to lessen in recent hours," the Vienna-based agency said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had also been informed by Japanese authorities that Saturday’s explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred outside the primary containment vessel, not inside.

"The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has confirmed that the integrity of the primary containment vessel remains intact," it said in a statement that is likely to be seen as positive for efforts to contain the damage.

An explosion severely damaged the main building of the plant earlier on Saturday in the wake of the massive earthquake, causing radiation to leak from the facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

The government insisted radiation levels were low, saying the blast had not affected the reactor core container.

Japan has reported that four workers at Fukushima Daiichi were injured by the explosion, the IAEA said.

It said about 140,000 people have so far been evacuated from areas near Fukushima Daiichi and another nuclear power plant.

"Evacuations around both affected nuclear plants have begun," the statement said.

Nuclear Meltdown

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