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article imageJapanese hospital patients exposed to radiation from Fukushima

By Kim I. Hartman     Mar 12, 2011 in World
Tokyo - A Japanese public broadcasting station reports three people randomly chosen from a hospital that's located near the damaged nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi have tested positive for exposure to radiation.
NHK World is reporting that the three patients, who were chosen from the ninety hospital patients awaiting airlift from a local high school, were exposed to radiation and will undergo decontamination. The remaining eighty-seven patients have not been tested for radioactivity.
"The hospital is located in Futaba Town about 3 kilometers north of the Fukushima Number One Nuclear Power Plant. It is within 10 kilometers of the quake-damaged plant," said NHK, citing a statement from Fukushima Prefecture. "They have not yet shown any reaction or physical signs of the radioactive exposure."
The designated evacuation area surrounding Fukushima Daiichi has been increased to 20 kilometers following today's explosion at the Toyko Electric Power Plant.
"Fukushima Prefecture says a high level of radiation has been measured near the nuclear power station. Radiation levels reportedly rose to 1,015 mircrosieverts per hour on Saturday. One hour of exposure to this amount of radiation is equivalent to the permissible amount of radiation an ordinary person receives in one year. It is about twice the level that requires power companies to notify the government of an emergency situation," according to NHK World.
"The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the power station's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, observed the radiation level near a gate on the hillside of the plant at 3:29 PM on Saturday, before an explosion was reported at the nuclear plant," said the NHK report.
Television news reports say at least 170,000 people have been evacuated from the area around the nuclear plant, Fukushima Daiichi.
CNN reports, "Japanese authorities are preparing to distribute iodine tablets to residents, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iodine is commonly prescribed to help prevent the thyroid gland from taking in too much radioactivity, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website."
A news release read by Wolf Blitzer on CNN's 'The Situation Room' at 6pm this evening said that "Safety officials tell CNN that meltdown 'may' now be underway at the Fukushima Number One Nuclear Power Plant." The crises occurring at one of the two reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was not responding to attempts to cool the reactor by pumping sea water and injecting boron into the containment area and by releasing the vapor building up inside.
Ichiro Fujisaki, Japanese Ambassador to the United States appearing on the Situation Room with Blitzer said "according to his information he did not see any evidence to a meltdown in progress."
Jeanne Meserve, an expert commentator appearing with Blitzer and Fujisaki, said in response, "Clearly it's a very grave situation with 'conflicting information' being released by Japanese government officials." She said that "the attempts to cool the reactor may be an act of desperation."
Meserve added, "If it's occurring, its a very serious development. But the 'meltdown' would not necessarily lead to a release into the environment.'
More about Fukushima Daiichi, Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear reactor, Radiation exposure
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