Four Reactors to Be Decomissioned, Seawater Radiation Levels Rise

BY News Desk  March 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM EST

Tokyo Electric Power Company has said four of the six reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant cannot be fixed and will be decommissioned as efforts to contain the spread of radioactive water continue at the facility.

Meantime, seawater off the coast tested with higher levels of radiation as TEPCO struggles to contain runoff from the water used to cool the damaged reactors. Tests on reactor 1, which is located near the Pacific Ocean, showed the radioactive iodine level to be 3,355 times the legal limit. Radioactive iodine has a relatively short half-life, meaning it decreases in potency, but there is still a great deal of concern over its spread from the plant. Traces of plutonium have also been found in nearby soil.

TEPCO’s president, Masataka Shimizu, was hospitalized with hypertension. The 66-year-old was reported to be suffering from dizziness and high blood pressure. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced that he will step in to fulfill his duties.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited some of the hundreds of thousands of evacuees living in makeshift shelters in Tokyo Wednesday. The death toll is officially at more than 11,000, but some 18,000 remain missing. The nuclear crisis has compounded the economic and humanitarian costs of the 9.0-magnitude quake, tsunami and series of aftershocks that have devastated parts of Japan.

View all of our Japan coverage and follow us on Twitter.