The mishap at a Japanese uranium-processing plant forced nearby Hitachi to suspend its manufacturing operations Friday.
Among the facilities shut down by the accident in Tokaimura were a leading-edge semiconductor fabrication plant and Hitachi’s Digital Media Products Division, which produces cell phones and DVD-RAM drives.
Thursday morning’s accident at JCO, 75 miles northeast of Tokyo, resulted from workers pouring too much uranium oxide into a purification tank containing nitric acid, apparently triggering a nuclear reaction. A few people were seriously injured and dozens were exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. Ibaraki Prefecture authorities instructed the 310,000 residents who live within a six-mile radius of the plant to stay indoors with their windows shut.
Hitachi has 11 plants and a laboratory within that six-mile corridor, resulting in the evacuation and closing of all the facilities in Hitachinaka and Hitachi City.
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