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German automakers evacuate employees from Japan over nuclear risks

BMW And Volkswagen Auto Group both urged European citizens living in Japan and working for the automakers’ Japanese operations to head back to Germany with the looming danger of nuclear explosions.

Because of the high level of risk involving a nuclear incident and the fact that the auto industry has been put on hold as everyone in Japan focuses on digging out from the earthquake and tsunami, Volkswagen Auto Group (VAG) has elected to bring 30 of their 40 German citizens living in Japan back to the homeland. Similarly, BMW put out an open invitation to their German citizens working in Japan to return home, with roughly 50 company employees leaving Japan. This information was reported by Automotive News Europe by a representative of Volkswagen to the people.

When the earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale hit Japan on March 11th, it did a tremendous amount of damage to various buildings but none have proven to be more of a problem in the five days following the quake than the earthquake of the ensuing tsunami. The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has sustained substantial damage, triggering a series of reactor explosions that have forced local officials to evacuate a 12 mile radius area around the plant. Outside of that, authorities recommend that people in a 20 mile radius stay indoors as radioactive material is entering the atmosphere.

Fukushima No. 1 plant officials announced that during one of the early blasts, the radioactive fuel rods became exposed to the environment, greatly heightening the odds of radiation level increases in the areas around the plant. With plant officials and safety workers still struggling to stabilize things inside of the nuclear plant, the risk looms of a large, full scale nuclear meltdown that could render the entire area a wasteland – similar to the area found around the Russian nuclear powerplant Chernobyl. Not only has the nuclear plant problems caused fears and concerns of radiation issues, it has also caused power outages throughout the country.

In addition to BMW and VAG bringing home German workers living in Japan, the German government has suggested that all of its citizens working in Japan return home until the nuclear risks are resolved. The French government has issued a similar statement to its people living/working in Japan, while the US has not advised American citizens to leave Japan.

Other Japanese Earthquake News:
Honda, Mazda, Subaru keep plants closed until next week, Mitsubishi re-opens
Toyota continues production stoppage until next Tuesday
GM donates $750,000 to Japanese earthquake relief efforts
Nissan updates the world on their post-earthquake status
US auto industry hit by supplier shortages in wake of Japanese Tsunami