Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan radioactive 1,850 times legal level

A file photo of a blast in one of the units at Fukushima nuclear power plant

Source: Press TV

Radioactivity near Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant has risen to 1,850 times the legal level as the nuclear crisis is worsening in the quake-hit country after more than two weeks.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Sunday that radioactive iodine in the waters off the quake-hit site rose to 1,850 times the usual level from 1,250 times measured on Saturday.

Separately, senior agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said leakage from reactor vessels was likely to have been the cause for high levels of radiation found in water that has accumulated in turbine buildings, Reuters reported.

The radioactive water within the plant has hampered workers from restoring its cooling systems.

International shipping companies say their cargo ships will not enter Japanese ports for the fear of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Many of the companies on Saturday avoided Tokyo Bay, which is home to two major ports of Tokyo and Yokohama.

On Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it could offer no timeline on when Japanese engineers could stop radioactive leakage from the stricken nuclear facility, even though the likely source of the emissions has been identified.

"We don't know how long there will be releases," senior IAEA technical advisor Graham Andrew told reporters at the agency's seat in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

In addition to suspected leaks of the vessel's shielding reactor cores at the plant's units 1 and 2, data also indicated a leak at reactor 3, IAEA officials said.

On March 11, a powerful quake, off the northeast coast of Japan's main island, unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours.

The Japanese government has put the post-quake rebuilding cost at $309 billion.

Japan has announced that nearly 28,000 people have died or are feared dead as a result of the disastrous quake and tsunami that hit the country two weeks ago.

The quake is now considered Japan's deadliest natural disaster since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 142,000 people.

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