Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pressure is mounting outside the reactor

Will evacuation zone in Japan's Fukushima area be extended as external pressure mounts from the international community?

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TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Pressure mounted on Japan on Thursday to expand the evacuation zone around its stricken nuclear power plant while officials said radiation may be flowing continuously into the nearby sea, where contamination was now 4,000 times the legal limit.

In the first data on the impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis, Japanese manufacturing slumped the most on record in March as factories shut down and global supply chains were broken.

The damage to the world's third-biggest economy from the quake and tsunami alone could cost more than $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster, and a report from a Wall Street investment bank said nuclear-related compensation claims could reach more than $130 billion.

Both the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Japan's nuclear safety agency said the government should consider widening the 20-km (12-mile) zone after high radiation was detected at twice that distance from the facility.


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