Refugees at Yonezawa Gymnasium in Japan. A mother holds her baby at Yonezawa gymnasium which is now providing a shelter for 504 people who either lost their homes by the Tsunami or live near Fukushima nuclear Power Station. Greenpeace

By Ian Sample, science correspondent, www.guardian.co.uk
12 April 201

Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima power plant has been carried around the world and far out to sea, adding to fear and confusion over the danger posed by the leaked material.

Japanese officials have taken steps to evacuate residents from five villages outside the exclusion zone around the beleaguered plant, where the severity of the crisis was upgraded to the worst rating possible on an international nuclear disaster scale.

The move, which comes as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire at a seawater sampling station at the plant, puts the incident at the crippled power station on a par with Chernobyl in 1986, the only previous nuclear disaster to be given the highest ranking.

Michael Mariotte, head of the Nuclear Information Research Service, an advocacy organisation, said those living in the villages were leaving for good. "The people are not being evacuated because of the threat of a large fast release, or releases that could cause acute symptoms. It is because radiation in these areas is too high to stay over the long term. It is not an evacuation per se. It is a permanent relocation. That is why they are not rushing it." …

Radiation from Fukushima spreads, but threat to rest of world is low

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