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Strong aftershock causes radioactive spill at new plant

Japan's nuclear crisis deepened on Friday as officials reported that a small amount of radioactive water had leaked from all three reactors at the country's north-eastern Onagawa plant after a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake.

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AFP - A powerful earthquake in northeast Japan rocked a nuclear plant, causing a small amount of radioactive water to spill, officials said Friday, but the operator said there was no immediate danger.

Nuclear power facilities in Japan
Nuclear power facilities in Japan

The 7.1-magnitude quake that hit offshore shortly before midnight Thursday resulted in water flowing from containers onto the floor in all three reactor buildings at the Onagawa plant, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

"We're currently investigating where the water came from. The radiation levels in the wet areas are far below the level that would require us to report to authorities," said a spokesman for the plant's operator Tohoku-Electric Power Co.

Most seriously affected was reactor number two, where 3.8 litres (eight pints) from the spent fuel pool ended up on the floor of the operation room.

"Due to the earthquake, there were a few abnormalities... As we continue to inspect the plant, I think we will see more of these abnormalities," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, the agency's spokesman.

The Onagawa plant lies more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi facility, where workers have been struggling for weeks to ward off disaster after the March 11 quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd, which operates the nuclear reprocessing facilities in Rokkasho, Aomori prefecture, also said the external power supply was cut, but that the power supply was later back up.

At the Higashidori nuclear plant, the external power source was also partially cut off following the quake and the cooling system for spent fuel rod pool temporarily halted but was restored later, the safety agency said.

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