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Meltdown Feared at Nuclear Plant in Japan

Japan warned there could be a small radiation leak from a nuclear reactor whose cooling system was knocked by Friday’s massive earthquake, but thousands of residents in the area had been moved out of harm’s way, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. air force had delivered coolant to avert a rise in the temperature of the facility’s nuclear rods. Pressure building in the plant was set to be released soon, a move that could result in a radiation leak, officials said.

Some 3,000 people who live within a 3 km radius of the plant had been evacuated, Kyodo news agency said.

“It’s possible that radioactive material in the reactor vessel could leak outside but the amount is expected to be small and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered,” Chief Cabinet Yukio Edano told a news conference.

“Residents are safe after those within a 3 km radius were evacuated and those within a 10 km radius are staying indoors, so we want people to be calm,” he added.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said pressure had built up inside a reactor at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant after the cooling system was knocked out by the earthquake, the largest on record in Japan. Pressure had risen to 1.5 times the designed capacity, the Japan Nuclear Safety agency said. Media also said the radiation level was rising in the turbine building.

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