» 03/29/2011, 00.00
Maximum alert in Fukushima: plutonium in soil, water tests radioactive
Naoto Kan declares this the worst crisis since the war. Worrying levels of plutonium and radioactive water near reactors 3 and 2. Growth in levels of Iodine 131 in China, South Korea, Vietnam and the U.S., all at levels not harmful to health.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Naoto Kan today declared the country on “maximum alert” to regain control of the nuclear crisis that has erupted in Fukushima. Meanwhile the presence of plutonium has been registered in soil around the plant’s reactors while water has tested highly radioactive in some of the collection pools.
Speaking today before the Diet (parliament) of Japan, the prime minister said that "this earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents are the biggest crisis for Japan" since the Second World War. Police have meanwhile upgraded the number of bodies recovered to 11 thousand, but it is expected that the final toll will exceed 18 thousand victims.
Meanwhile, the crisis seems to worsen at Fukushima nuclear plant. The ground around the plant and on the floors of the building was found to contain plutonium, only used in reactor 3 (out of six in the plant). Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor of isotope analysis at the University of Nagoya, said that "if the plutonium enters the bloodstream, it can damage our cells leading to cancer of the bones or liver."
Water was found in a tunnel outside of reactor 2, with radiation greater than 1 sievert per hour. Exposure for 30 minutes at such levels causes nausea, for four hours can lead to death within two months. The continued growth of radiation indicates that a partial melting of the fuel rods has taken place at the plant.
In the country, the fear of radiation, has led to a ban on vegetables and milk from the region of Fukushima: the government is ready to expand the evacuation area around the central, to date, fixed at 20 km.
Because of wind, other countries around Japan have recorded increases in the presence of radioactive iodine in the air or soil, but not all at levels of concern for health. The Agency for the Environment in the U.S. found radioactive traces in the rain falls in Ohio, the Chinese Ministry of the Environment has stated that "low levels" of iodine 131 were found along the coast in Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Guangdong and Guangxi, the same in South Korea and even Vietnam.
UN: Japan has "underestimated" the risk of a tsunami at Fukushima
The International Atomic Energy Agency published a three-page report on the disaster at the Daiichi nuclear plant. The report highlights weaknesses, but also praises the "exemplary" response to the crisis. The future of the country’s nuclear industry is unknown. The government accepted the report.
One year on from the "great earthquake" that shook Japan
It was the most powerful earthquake in the history of the country. The energy released is 600 million times that of the Hiroshima bomb. Apocalyptic figures of dead, missing and destruction. The problem of waste disposal persists: everyone fears contamination by nuclear waste. Parliament and public servants will reduce their wages by 30% to find the funds for reconstruction.
Year of faith for Fukushima survivors, Japanese bishops say
The Bishops' Conference issues a message for all the faithful in Japan at the start of the Year of faith proclaimed by Benedict XVI. We live with "various problems" and "our society is filled with unvoiced cries." Let us start again from prayer and faith in the Saviour to find the light together.
Japan remembers its 19,000 tsunami victims
The country halts on Sunday for a minute of silence. A memorial is inaugurated in Tokyo for the victims. Some 16,000 people protest against nuclear power, demand compensation for victims.
Sea near Fukushima contaminated. Radiation 1,250 times over safety limit
Radioactive iodine leaked from the plant could also damage ground water beneath the reactors. The Japanese Agency for nuclear safety reduces alert level and hopes for a quick re-absorption of radiation by tides. According to Prime Minister Khan, the situation remains unpredictable.
Defeated on ice, but 'first' in history, joint Korean hockey team players hug
After losing to Sweden in their last match, the Korean team ends up in seventh place. Players burst into tears at their imminent separation. "Politicians made that executive decision [to have a joint team]. Our players and staff are the ones that made it work,” said the team’s proud Canadian coach. One South Korean athlete hopes the country is proud of them. "It was bigger than hockey."
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