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    Radiation levels in Russia's Far East within norm after Japan nuclear accident

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    Radiation levels in Russia's Far East remain within the norm following an accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, a spokesman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry's local branch said on Sunday.

    Radiation levels in Russia's Far East remain within the norm following an accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, a spokesman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry's local branch said on Sunday.

    Far Eastern meteorologists "have not registered any changes in radiation levels in the Sakhalin and Magadan regions, as well as in the Primorye, Khabarovsky and Kamchatsky territories," he said.

    Regional meteorology services were put on high alert after a blast was reported to have ripped through the Fukushima Number One reactor, about 250 km (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, on Saturday. Monitoring of radiation levels in the region is carried out every three hours.

    A representative of the Primorye meteorology service told RIA Novosti the normal radiation level in the region should not exceed 30 microroentgen per hour, while the current level was 12-14 microroentgen per hour.

    Winds from Japan do not reach the region, being overridden by north-western winds from China, he said.

    The blast at Japan's Fukushima Number One reactor destroyed the wall of the reactor turbine building, but the Japanese authorities said the reactor itself, covered with a steel container, was not damaged.

    In a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Japanese nuclear authorities assigned the Fukushima accident the level 4 on the international INES scale that runs from 1 (anomaly) to 7 (major accident). According to the IAEA's definition, a level-4 accident is defined as having "local consequences," such as a "minor release of radioactive material."

    The cooling system of another reactor at the plant was reported to have failed on Sunday, raising fears of another blast. The Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano as saying the reactor was in process of releasing radioactive steam.

    Rescue operations are under way in Japan following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country's largest Honshu island on Friday, killing more than 1,000 people. Officials said the death toll from the disaster may exceed 1,800 as thousands are still missing.

     

    VLADIVOSTOK, March 13 (RIA Novosti)

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