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Stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be shut down

Four of the six nuclear reactors at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan will be shut down.

In a further blow, tests on seawater near the plant showed radiation levels well above the legal limit, heightening fears of widening nuclear contamination.

The plant’s fate was announced on television yesterday by Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of the operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which has been widely criticised for its handling of Japan's worst nuclear crisis.

“Honestly speaking, work to effectively stabilise the temperature of the reactors has yet to begin,” said Mr Katsumata.

“The company will have no choice but to shut them down for good.”

He said that “basic functions have been retained” at two remaining reactors and hinted they might be saved.

This was immediately squashed by top government spokesman Yukio Edano who said the complex would have to be scrapped. “It is very clear, looking at the circumstances,” he said.

At least one of the reactors has been leaking radiation, contaminating food, milk and water and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people within a 30km (19-mile) radius of the complex.

Small quantities of the radiation have been detected as far away as Glasgow. Many countries have introduced radiation checks on Japanese produce and several have banned it altogether.

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