Japan: High radiation detected in grass

2011-05-19 13:01
Tokyo - Local officials in north-eastern Japan said on Thursday they had found high levels of radioactive substances in a sample of pasture grass.

Miyagi prefecture officials detected 1 530 becquerels of radioactive caesium/kg in a sample collected a week ago from a farm run by the town of Marumori, about 60km north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The figure was more than five times the legal limit of 300 becquerels.

The plant has leaked radioactive substances into the environment since it was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The government and operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) have struggled to bring it under control.

Local officials said they also found 350 becquerels of caesium in a sample from a farm in Osaki city.

The Miyagi prefectural government has told around 6 000 livestock farmers across the prefecture to refrain from feeding grass to livestock and putting cattle out on grazing land.

But the move will mainly affect dairy farmers as the legal limit of grass for breeding and commercial cattle is much higher – 5 000 becquerels, said Inao Yamada, a prefectural official.

Water circulation system

This is the first time radioactivity exceeding the legal limit has been found in grass or vegetables in the prefecture, Yamada said.

Meanwhile, the operator said the total amount of radioactive water at the plant is estimated to top 100 000 tons, which includes about 7 500 tons of water that have already been removed from the buildings of reactors number 2 and 3, Jiji Press reported citing Tepco.

The facilities of reactor number 2 are considered to have the largest amount of contaminated water totalling 25 000 tons - 6 500 tons in the basement of the reactor building, 13 000 tons in the turbine building basement and 5 500 tons in an underground tunnel that stretches toward the ocean, Jiji said.

On Wednesday, Tepco workers entered the building of reactor 2 for the first time since a blast at the containment vessel on March 15 to survey conditions ahead of planned repair work on the key cooling functions.

In its revised plan announced on Tuesday, Tepco said it would aim to create a water circulation system in which it would remove radioactive substances from water inundating the facilities of reactors 1 to 4 and use the water to cool reactors.

About 13 800 tons of water at reactors 5 and 6 will be moved to temporary tanks and the operator will use zeolite to absorb radioactive substances in the water, Jiji said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    japan  |  nuclear  |  japan earthquake
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