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Plant chief: Fukushima nuke plant still vulnerable

February 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Nearly a year later, Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima power plant remains fragile, and makeshift equipment is being used to keep crucial systems running, the plant chief said.

Journalists were given a tour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Tuesday. They observed crumpled trucks and equipment still lying on the ground, and a power pylon that collapsed in the tsunami remained a mangled mess.

According to an independent report, the government had downplayed the full danger in the days after the March 11 disaster, and had secretly considered evacuating Tokyo.

Today, radiation hot spots remain inside the plant. Employees usually work for about three hours at a time, but in some areas, including highly contaminated Unit 3, they can stay only a few minutes.

The government announced in December that three melted reactors at the plant had basically stabilized and that radiation releases had dropped. It still will take decades to fully decommission the plant, and it must be kept stable until then.

Since the crisis, no one has died from radiation exposure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.