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article imageFukushima radiation leaks understated, troops search for missing

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 25, 2011 in Politics
Tokyo - As Japanese government troops begin searching for missing persons, released information indicates radioactive material leaking into the air from the Daiichi nuclear facility in early April was far greater than what had previously been estimated.
Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) released data over the weekend showing that, as of April 5, radioactive material being released into the atmosphere at Daiichi was estimated at 154 terabecquerels per day. The government agency had previously estimated leaking radiation at the site on April 5 to be “less than 1 terabecquerel per hour,” the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
On that day, cesium-137 and odine-131 were released into the atmosphere at estimated rates of 0.14 terabecquerel and 0.69 terabecquerel per hour respectively, Yomiuri Shimbun reports the NSC as stating. The emissions are converted into iodine-131 equivalents for estimation on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), arriving at the total of 154 terabecquerels per day.
One terabecuerel is the equivalent of one trillion becquerels.
On April 17, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it expected radiation leaks at Daiichi to be reduced within three months and that it would take six to nine months to cool reactors and get the radiation under control.
By that estimation of April 5, 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material would be released from the plant in the coming three months. Because of those high radiation releases, Yomiuri Shimbun reports the Fukushima plant is rated a maximum Level 7 on the scale.
The news comes as the Japanese government has announced it is sending almost 25,000 soldiers on a two-day mission into the disaster zone created by last month’s earthquake and tsunami that killed over 14,000 people and has left another 12,000 missing.
The 24,800 soldiers will be supported by 90 planes and helicopters, Defense Ministry spokesman Ippo Maeyama said. “We will do our utmost to recover bodies for bereaved families," he said, according to Huffington Post.
Helping back the operation will be 50 boats and 100 navy divers who will search the waters up to 20 kilometers off the country’s northeast coast. “It's been very difficult and challenging to find bodies because the areas hit by tsunami are so widespread,” Maeyama added. “Many bodies also have been swept away by the tsunami.”
Members of the Fairfax County  Va.  Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue search structures and debri...
Members of the Fairfax County, Va., Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue search structures and debris in northeast Japan
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Additionally, agriculture officials are planning to send a group of veterinarians into the evacuation zone around the crippled nuclear plant to check the status of hundreds of thousands of cows, chickens and pigs left abandoned after the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing ensuing nuclear nightmare. Many of the animals are believed to have died from starvation, with the government considering euthanizing others.
Adding to the woes for residents in the evacuation zone, movers are denying their services because of the dangerously high levels of leaking radiation at the Daiichi plant near Fukushima

“Out of consideration for our employees' safety, we can't let them take on those jobs,” one official with a moving company said, according to UPI.
Orders to evacuate the zone are impacting thousands of people in five cities around the nuclear disaster site, yet moving companies have labeled the vicinity a no-service area.
“We were told to evacuate, but we can’t,” a 50-year-old woman in Iitatemura, a town within the evac zone, said, UPI reports. “Are [the moving companies] just going to abandon us without offering to help?”
The office of Iitatemura’s village administrator said similar complaints have been forthcoming.



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