Japan's Edano: Work under way to control reactor

TOKYO, March 13 Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:46pm EST

The damaged roof of reactor number No. 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after an explosion that blew off the upper part of the structure is seen in this handout photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 12, 2011. REUTERS/TEPCO/Handout

The damaged roof of reactor number No. 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after an explosion that blew off the upper part of the structure is seen in this handout photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/TEPCO/Handout

TOKYO, March 13 (Reuters) - Attempts to control a nuclear reactor that exploded after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northern Japan are continuing using water supply and steam release to cool it down, the top government spokesman said on Sunday.

Friday's devastation left the No.1 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi power plant with a crippled cooling system, causing a rise in reactor temperature and pressure.

"We are doing the two things at the same time - venting air out of the reactor and supplying water into the reactor," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

"Radiation released in the process is low enough not to affect people's health."

Edano later told NHK public television: "Responding to the disaster will require enormous focus and effort by the nation as it is a catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude."

It would also require a long-term commitment by the Self-Defense Forces and other organizations.

"Our priority is to save lives and we expect the 200 billion yen ($2.4 billion) budget reserve for the current fiscal year to suffice. We cannot comment on the size of the necessary extra budget for the next fiscal year (starting in April) for now, it will need deliberations in parliament."

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Watson)

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