04/06/2011, 00.00
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Fukushima, radioactive leak sealed. Battle to restart cooling pumps continues

The 20 cm crack leaked tons of radioactive material into the Pacific. Ten Christians among the power plant "heroes". India stops all imports of foodstuffs from Japan. Other countries are considering similar measures.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Fukushima engineers were able to shore up the leak, through which contaminated seawater flowed into the ocean. For several days tons of radioactive liquid seeped through a crack about 20 cm wide in the concrete wall of a well near reactor No 2. The emergency crews tried several times unsuccessfully to seal the gap, using a mixture of sawdust, newspaper and absorbent polymers. The water coming out of the hole was contaminated with radioactive iodine which was four thousand times greater than accepted limits. The engineers have closed the hole using sodium silicate, a chemical also known as "water glass".

Some 11,500 tons of low-level radioactive water will still have to be poured into the Pacific, to make room in the storage pools for the most contaminated water, used to cool the reactors. Technicians say that the water pumped into the ocean does not pose significant health risks. But the battle continues, engineers are still struggling to re-start the cooling pumps, which recycle the water in the four reactors damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March. Mgr. Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai, said that there are ten Christians among "the brave men committed to the delicate task in Fukushima with the full knowledge that they are giving their life up for the common good."

A growing number of countries are blocking food imports from Japan. Today the Indian government announced a total ban on imports joining China, the USA, Singapore and Hong Kong, while similar measures are under discussion in Korea, the European Union and Australia.

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