Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japan on 'maximum alert' over N-crisis

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Source: Press TV

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says his government is in a "state of maximum alert" over the deepening radiation crisis at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Addressing a lower house budget committee, Kan said that the situation "continues to be unpredictable" and that the government "will tackle the problem while in a state of maximum alert," AFP reported.

Kan's remarks come as traces of radioactivity from damaged nuclear facilities in Japan have been detected in rainwater in the northeast United States.

Ohio reported elevated radiation levels in rainwater on Monday, a day after monitors for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found similar cases in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Experts at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio reported small amounts of Iodine 131 from Japan in precipitation on Monday.

"In theory, the Iodine 131 could have come from any radioactive waste processing facility. But we know it's from Japan. The isotope is being seen worldwide," said geology professor Gerald Matisoff, who monitors rainwater carried into Lake Erie for the EPA.

The EPA has been monitoring radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was battered in the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, and had previously detected "very low levels of radioactive material" in the United States.

The agency said that these levels "were expected as a result of the nuclear incident after the events in Japan since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere," and that "the levels detected are far below levels of public health concern."

The US institute has, however, stepped up its monitoring of precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes for radiation as a precaution.

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