(Adds information on radioactive sea soil)
TOKYO May 3 Workers at Japan's crippled nuclear
plant began putting up equipment on Tuesday to allow the start
of repairs to its cooling systems, key to bringing reactors
under control after they were badly damaged in the March 11
quake and tsunami.
Soldiers moved to within 10 km (6 miles) of the Fukushima
complex to search for those still missing following the
disaster, the first time the military is conducting searches in
this area since the plant began leaking radiation
after the disaster hit.
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has said it may take
the rest of the year to bring the nuclear plant back under
The company said it had begun constructing special tents at
the entrance to turbine buildings so workers can move in and
out. It is also installing fans with filters at the No.1 reactor
to reduce radiation inside to one-twentieth of current levels
"We want to suck out the air in the building and use the
filter to remove radiation from the dust," TEPCO spokesman
Junichi Matsumoto told reporters.
The magnitude 9.0 quake and massive tsunami that followed
knocked out the cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
power plant, 240 km north of Tokyo, causing it to leak
The natural disaster was the worst to hit Japan since
World War Two and killed about 14,700 people, left some
11,000 more missing and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.
As the search for the missing continued, 560 Japanese
Self-Defense Force troops began working within a 10 km radius of
Fukushima Daiichi, the Defense Ministry said, the first time
they have come so close for searches since the crisis began.
People living within a 20 km radius of the plant were
evacuated and banned from returning home on April 21 due to
concerns about radiation levels.
Soil containing radioactive materials up to 1,000 times the
normal level were found from the bottom of the sea near the
nuclear plant, TEPCO's Matsumoto said on Tuesday.
Unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan is facing increasing
calls to quit over his handling of the crisis.
The latest blow for Kan came when an adviser on the nuclear
crisis quit in protest over the government's decision to set the
annual radiation limit at 20 millisieverts per year for school
children in Fukushima, a level the adviser said was unacceptably
(Reporting by Hugh Lawson, Mari Saito and Yoko Kubota; editing
by Jonathan Thatcher and Miral Fahmy)