30,000 Children Get Nuke Detectors

In Asia, News Headlines

Officials in Japan says they will hand out radiation readers to more than 30,000 children in the wake of the meltdown in three of the six reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Responding to concerns from parents, Fukushima city officials say they will distribute radiation readers to every child aged between four and 15.

The children will be asked to wear the devices around the clock for three months in a bid to gauge their exposure to radiation from the crippled nuclear plant that sits 60 kilometres away.

Radioactive strontium was found in Fukushima city last week. The substance can cause bone cancer and leukaemia.

Meanwhile, Japan’s cabinet approved a draft law to help the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), pay billions of dollars in compensation to its radiation refugees.

The approval is a step forward in a slow process that has frustrated the victims of radiation leaks at the nuclear plant, and drove up shares in the company by 25 per cent on Tuesday.

However, opponents of the bill from both sides of a divided parliament may now trip up the proposed law or demand amendments in return for support, leaving TEPCO’s fate uncertain.

Holders and analysts of the company’s $110 billion debt remain wary.

“It has not been made into a law yet. So it’s too early to take a sigh of relief,” said Akihito Murata, credit analyst at Deutsche Securities.

TEPCO’s shares, which have fallen 88 per cent since the March 11 quake, have been volatile as investors jumped in and out of the stock.

On June 7, the shares dropped 28 per cent before rebounding.

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