Radioactivity Rises Near Japan's Crippled Nuke; Could Mean New Leaks

"TOKYO -- Levels of radioactive materials have risen sharply again in seawater near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan, raising the possibility of new leaks at the complex, the government said Saturday.

Workers have been struggling to deal with contaminated runoff at the plant that resulted from makeshift efforts to cool reactors and spent fuel rod pools after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out regular cooling systems.

Much of the tons of water that has been sprayed on the reactors and pools has been stored, but the company that operates the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, recently discovered and eventually plugged a leak that could have been gushing for days. The levels of radioactive materials in the ocean near the plant dropped after that.

But the government said Saturday that levels of radioactive materials in the seawater have risen again in recent days. The level of radioactive iodine 131 jumped to 6,500 times the legal limit, according to samples taken Friday, up from 1,100 times the limit in samples taken the day before. Levels of cesium 134 and cesium 137 rose nearly fourfold. The increased levels are still far below those recorded earlier this month before the initial leak was plugged."

Mari Yamaguchi reports for the Associated Press April 16, 2011.

SEE ALSO:

"Fuel Rod Fragments at Bottom of Vessels" (Japan Times)

"Ed Markey Blasts Nuclear Watchdog" (Boston Herald)

"Radioactivity Rises in Sea Off Japan Nuclear Plant" (Associated Press)

"Japan Nuclear Crisis 'Over in Nine Months'" (BBC News)

"Geiger Counters Unlikely to Detect Radiation in Food, Water" (Bloomberg)

"TEPCO To Sell Phone Firm Stake for Nuclear Payout" (AFP)

"US Secretary of State Clinton Visits Japan in Show of Support for Disaster-Stricken Ally" (AP)

"Japan’S Officials Try To Take a Bite Out of Radiation Fears About Fukushima Vegetables" (Washington Post)

Source: AP, 04/18/2011