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Japan Radiation Reaches Iceland, Less Than Chernobyl

Jenny Chen |
March 23, 2011 | 3:44 p.m. PDT

Associate News Editor


Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Traces of radioactive particles from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant have reached Iceland, experts said Wednesday. 

Minuscule particles are also predicted to reach France and other European countries, but are unlikely to represent a health risk. 

Iceland’s Radiation Safety Authority said the concentration of the plume with iodine was “less than a millionth” of what was found following Chernobyl in 1986. 

New calculations estimate that the release of iodine and caesium, the two types of radioactive particles from Fukushima, in its first three to four days has reached between 20 to 50 percent of what was released in Chernobyl in 10 days. 

These findings were released by Austria’s Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics on Wednesday just as Japan continues to grapple with issues from water contamination to black smoke billowing from its No. 3 reactor. 

Head researcher Gerhard Wotawa said it was difficult to make day-by-day comparisons, but both caesium and iodine were “volatile substances” that could escape in nuclear accidents.  

Deutsche Welle reported that Wotawa said the release “are very likely in the same order of magnitude as happened during the Chernobyl accident,” adding that further data could reveal higher amounts of release. 

However, experts still say there are big differences between Chernobyl and Japan’s nuclear disaster, particularly because the population was not fully aware of what happened in Chernobyl. 

Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.
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