Expats in Japan warned about Fukushima radiation hazards

Published:  15 Jan at 6 PM
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As the Fukushima nuclear disaster grinds on with seemingly no short-term solution, radiation at the boundaries of the stricken plant has reaches eight times the official safety limit.

The Asahi Shinbun newspaper recently reported that levels around the plant still exceed the government standard of one milliseviert a year and are measured at eight millisevierts, according to Tokyo Electric, the plant’s operators. Conditions in the dendely-populated region south of the plant were the subject of last week’s meeting of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

According to a spokesman from Tokyo Electric, the reason for the spike in radiation levels is the heavily contaminated water leaching from the storage tanks installed after the disaster. The water contains strontium 90 and other substances which are reacting with the sides and bases of the tanks to produce X-rays.

A new system has now been installed to filter the radioactive water and remove the suspended particles, which pool as a radioactive sludge. The sludge is then collected, placed in high-tech containers and securely stored.

Even so, ground water contamination from the leaks is considered to be of major concern, and emissions from the wrecked reactors are believed to have travelled a good distance from the site, rendering those visiting or living in more southerly areas at risk.

In addition, radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean is mounting, hreatening marine life as well as Japan’s huge fishing industry. Recent catches have revealed fish with levels of up to 12,400 becquerels per kilo of highly radioactive cesium, 124 times higher than government–set safety levels.

Fish is the staple in most Japanese diets and is often eaten raw, and the admitted 300 tons of irradiated water which leaked into the ocean late last year is clearly taking its toll on Japan’s important seafood exports as well as domestic demand.
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