Japan nuclear crisis: New radiation leak big enough to "have an impact on human health"

News release

MANILA, 15 March 2011—The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, today advised people living between 20 km and 30 km from the country's damaged nuclear power plants to stay indoors and not use ventilator systems. People living within 20 km of the facility were advised to leave the area two days ago.

The most recent advice followed an explosion early this morning at the number two reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. The blast caused a radiation leak that a government official described as serious enough to have "an impact on human health" to people near the plant.

Shortly before the incident at the number two reactor, there was an explosion followed by a fire at unit 4, which is used to store used nuclear material. The fire was put out a few hours later.

WHO radiological experts have been working closely with Japanese authorities and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the evolving situation. WHO experts share Japan's concerns about the situation around the affected facility. However, based on the information available to date, WHO believes that there is currently no significant risk to human health for anyone living outside the 30 km zone.

It is likely that small amounts of radiation will be detected for some time beyond the zone, but the levels of radiation are likely to be extremely low and pose no threat to human health.

WHO will continue to work closely with Japanese experts and with the IAEA to monitor the situation. Further updates will be provided on a daily basis.

Japan's focal point for the International Health Regulations (IHR) has notified WHO about the nuclear facilities affected by the earthquake.

Further informationhttp://www.wpro.who.int/sites/eha/disasters/2011/jpn_earthquake/list.htmhttp://www.who.int/hac/en/index.html

For more information please contact: Dr Takeshi Kasai, at cellphone +63 918 921 4217 or email kasait@wpro.who.int Dr Arturo Pesigan, at cellphone +63 918 917 8053 or email pesigana@wpro.who.int