Workers at a quake-damaged atomic power plant temporarily suspended operations and evacuated Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous to remain there, dealing a setback to Japan’s frantic efforts to stem a nuclear crisis.
"All the workers there have suspended their operations. We have urged them to evacuate, and they have," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano said, according to a translation by NHK television.
Edano said that a surge in radiation Wednesday morning meant workers were unable to continue even minimal efforts at the stricken nuclear plant.
However, The New York Times reported that a small group of workers remained at the plant, contrary to what an English translation of the cabinet secretary's remarks had implied.
About 45 minutes after the surge, radiation levels near the plant came back down, Edano said. It's possible that evaporation from reactor No. 3 may have caused the temporary surge, Edano said, although that can't be immediately confirmed.
Earlier officials said 70 percent of fuel rods at one of the six reactors at the plant were significantly damaged in the aftermath of Friday's calamitous earthquake and tsunami.