03/21/2011, 00.00
JAPAN
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Fukushima: signs of progress, but alarm over contaminated water, food and milk

The technicians at the damaged power station were able to restore electricity in three of the reactors, and are trying to restore the water pumping system. No need to further expand the evacuation area (20 km) around Fukshima, but the emergency is not yet over.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – There are signs of progress in the battle that the 580 technicians and workers are conducting in Fukushima. The engineers have managed to reconnect three nuclear reactors to the power grid and hope to soon test the system for pumping water. These are the first clear signs of improvement in tackling the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. The chairman of the Nuclear Control Commission of the United States, Gregory Jaczko said that the levels of radioactivity appear to be falling. However, the situation, though improving, still does not seem to be fully under control.

Yesterday the alarm was raised over a possible nuclear fallout, after officials revealed traces of radioactive elements in milk, spinach, water and rain in northern and central Japan. The Ministry of Health ordered residents near Fukushima not to drink tap water the due to the high level of radioactive iodine. The government has banned the sale of raw milk from Fukushima Prefecture in and could announce more restrictions on food during the day.

Throughout yesterday the battle at Fukishima continued. Technical teams from the police and fire departments in Tokyo, using a robot, pumped sea water for 13 hours on reactor No. 3, which contains plutonium and uranium. The pressure, which had been rising continuously, was finally stabilized . The Italian Embassy in Tokyo said: "Although the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is gradually improving, the emergency is not yet over and we can not therefore rule out additional, significant environmental damage, with consequent health risks”. The Japan Agency for Nuclear Safety has reported that there is no need to expand the evacuation area around the centre of Fukushima from the current radius of 20 km.

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