[FUKUSHIMA] Radioactive water leaks from crippled Japan plant


As Japan's prime minister visited tsunami-ravaged coastal areas for the first time Saturday, frustrated evacuees complained that the government has been too focused on the nuclear crisis that followed the massive wave.

Nearly every day some new problem at the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant commands officials' attention — Saturday it was a newly discovered crack in a maintenance pit that is leaking highly radioactive water into the sea.

"The government has been too focused on the Fukushima power plant rather than the tsunami victims. Both deserve attention," said 35-year-old Megumi Shimanuki, who was visiting her family at a community center converted into a shelter in hard-hit Natori, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Rikuzentakata, where Prime Minister Naoto Kan stopped Saturday. More than 165,000 people are still living in shelters.

Kan's government has been frantically working with Tokyo Electric Power Co. to solve the crisis at the nuclear complex, which has been spewing radioactivity since cooling systems were disabled by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that preceded the tsunami on March 11.

On Saturday, nuclear safety officials announced that they had found water with levels of radioactive iodine far above the legal limit leaking from an 8-inch (20-centimeter) crack in the maintenance pit into the Pacific Ocean.

They said the crack was likely caused by the quake and may be the source of radioactive iodine that started showing up in the ocean more than a week ago.

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