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Monday, March 28, 2011

Plutonium in water at damaged Daiichi Nuclear Power plant, small traces of Iodine-131 found in US states

Photo Credit-Pictures of destroyed reactors at Fukushima
Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant
Plutonium has been detected in soil at five locations at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on March 28th.

The operator of the nuclear complex said that plutonium has been discharged from nuclear fuel at the plant, which was damaged by the devastating March 11th 8.9 level earthquake and 23 foot tsunami

Stating concentration level does not pose a risk to human health, the utility firm said it will strengthen monitoring on the environment in and around the nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, high levels of radiation exceeding 1,000 millisieverts per hour have been detected in water outside of the No. 2 reactor's building at the nuclear plant. Contaminated water is suspected to have come from the reactor's core, where fuel rods have partially melted, authorities noted.

At a radiation level of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, people could suffer a decrease in the number of  white blood cells, in just 30 minutes.  Half of those individuals could die within 30 days by remaining in such conditions for four hours.

The nuclear plant operator TEPCO found on March 27th, that the radiation level at the surface of the trench water adjacent to the No. 1 complex was 0.4 millisievert per hour.

At this point, it remains unknown whether the contaminated water has flowed into the nearby sea. TEPCO suspects the high concentration of radioactive substances found in seawater near the plant reactors' drainage outlets may be linked to the trench water, Kyodo News noted.

The  nuclear agency said radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration 1,150 times the maximum allowable level was detected March 27th in a seawater sample taken around 1.5 kilometers north of the drainage outlets of the troubled Nunmber 1-4 reactors.

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, told reporters he is ''very worried'' about the high-level radiation detected in water in the trenches, which is outside the radiation-controlled area set by TEPCO.

Maradame said he cannot predict when the ongoing nuclear emergency will end. In addition, he pointed to the possibility that fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor, which were temporarily exposed to the atmosphere, have been significantly damaged.

Meanwhile, in the United States, utilities companies North and South Carolina are adding to the list entities reporting trace amounts of radiation from Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors.

Progress Energy and Duke Energy in North Carolina and, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company reported that they have detected trace amounts of radiation. The company noted that they have picked up low levels of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear fission, at its nuclear plant in South Carolina and at a Florida plant.

Trace amounts of radioactive iodine also have turned up in rainwater samples in Massachusetts during the past week, state officials said on March 27th.  Radioiodine-131 detected in precipitation at a sample location in Massachusetts, is comparable to findings in California, Washington State and Pennsylvania. Still officials insist that the amount poses no threat to drinking water supplies, public health officials said.

"The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach."We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution," he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says people are exposed to much more radiation on an international airline flight.

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