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article imageJapan: Radiation leak could contaminate ocean

By Leo Reyes     Mar 28, 2011 in Environment
Contaminated water from one of the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant could find its way into the sea, as large amount of radioactive water has leaked from one of the buildings housing a reactor.
Japan has reportedly appealed for help in containing harmful radioactive materials from spreading into the atmosphere. France said its nuclear groups Areva and EDF had been asked to help in a situation which Industry Minister Eric Besson described as "extremely critical".
"Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said a large amount of highly radioactive water had leaked from reactor two's turbine building into an underground maintenance tunnel that is now close to overflowing, AFP reports.
"We need to check if the water could flow directly into the sea," a TEPCO official said.
The difficult task of containing the newly-discovered leak which threatens to spill out in the open seas, came after an announcement that the level of radiation has reached an alarming number which was way beyond normal.
"Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that water seeping out of the No. 2 reactor building into the adjacent turbine building contained levels of radioactive iodine 134 that were about 10 million times the level normally found in water used inside nuclear power plants.", reports.
"Late Sunday night, however, the operator of the stricken plant said that the high reading may have been a mistake." the report added.
The announcement has caused widespread worry and panic for people inside and out of the nuclear plant, prompting Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant of operator to amend its announcement. The company spokesman said "We're sorry".
Robert Finck, a radiation protection specialist at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, said: ‘The situation is serious. You can only be in there for a few minutes. It’s impossible to say how long it will take before they can gradually take control.’, Mailonline reports.
"Officials revealed further alarming news yesterday when they reported that radiation in the sea off the plant had risen to 1,850 times above normal, a jump from 1,250 the previous day.", the report added.
"A Tokyo Electric spokesman conceded that the cause of the leak in number two reactor was not known", according to the report.
‘We are examining the cause, but no work is being done there because of the high level of radiation,’ he said. ‘There is a high possibility that fuel rods are being damaged.’ The radioactive materials included iodine-134, iodine-131 and caesium-134 and 137 – substances emitted during nuclear fission inside a reactor core.
The death toll from the devastating earthquake and the resulting killer tsunami that flattened a wide area in northeastern Japan has reportedly exceeded 10,000 with more than 15,000 still missing.
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