Saturday, October 2, 1999 Published at 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Pressure on Japan's nuclear industry
Several thousand Tokaimura residents were given radiation checks
Two days after Japan's worst nuclear accident, operators at the uranium processing plant where it happened are facing mounting criticism.
Residents within a 10km radius of the plant have been told they can go outdoors.
On Saturday the government offered health checks to people living within half a kilometre of the plant.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency says the situation is more serious than first thought, but it says its offer to send a team of experts to Japan has been declined.
Following an admission that official procedures had not been followed, the plant's head of production has been interviewed by police. They have also taken a statement from one of the three workers seriously injured by exposure to radiation.
The other two are still said to be too ill to give information and are expected to be given bone marrow transplants.
The accident happened after workers at the plant poured too much uranium solution into a tank, setting off an explosion which pushed radiation in the area around the building to 15,000 times above normal.
Newspapers reported that employees used buckets to transfer uranium solution into a mixing tank instead of using the designated mechanic aparatus.
Farmers have been warned not to harvest their crops until safety checks had been carried out.
Crops from six areas near the nuclear plant have been checked and further testing is due to take place.
Businesses may be given state loans to help them get over the effects of the accident
The government apologised for the slowness of the official response to the accident.
But although public anger and mistrust of nuclear power may be growing, there is no sign that Japan will abandon its policy of building more nuclear plants.
Japan has 51 commercial nuclear power reactors, providing one third of the country's electricity.