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More Smoke Stalls Power Restoration Efforts At Fukushima

David McAlpine |
March 21, 2011 | 11:14 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Smoke is rising again from a reactor building at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to Japanese news outlets.

Steam and what appeared to be smoke rose from the sides of Reactor No. 2 at the plant as media reports rose concerns over another fire in the building, causing efforts to restore electricity to stall for a short time.

Work resumed later Tuesday as plant employees attempted to restore power to the damaged plant.

However, nationwide concern spread across Japan over possible impact of damage to the nuclear power plant on local food and drink.

Reuters reported:

High levels of radioactive substances have been detected in the seawater near the plant.

The substances were detected in seawater which was sampled Monday about 100 metres south of the Fukushima plant, Tsunoda said, stressing it was not a threat to human health.

"Normally, such radioactive substances are not detected in the area," said Tsunoda, adding that the company will continue monitoring at the same point and in other areas.

TEPCO said the level of iodine-131 was 126.7 times higher and caesium-134 was 24.8 times higher than government-set standards.

The level of caesium-137 was also 16.5 times higher while that of cobalt-58 was lower than the standard, said Tsunoda.

Japanese officials responded by suspending shipments of spinach from the northeastern region of the country.  They also banned the sale of raw milk after small amounts of radiation were found in those products stemming from the region around the Fukushima plant.

From The Wall Street Journal:

"Experts agree that there is no health impact by consuming these food items on a few occasions, so we ask that people respond calmly without reacting excessively," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference Monday. "You can safely consume products that have already been distributed and there will no adverse health impact."

Contaminated food products already have reached Tokyo. Higher-than-standard levels of iodine-131 were detected in the leafy vegetable shungiku, or garland chrysanthemum, sold in the nation's capital.

Early Tuesday, Tepco said radioactive substances exceeding the normal levels set by Japan were detected in seawater near the Daiichi plant. The higher level of radioactive substances in seawater won't immediately cause adverse health effects as people aren't likely to directly ingest the water, a Tepco spokesman said. The utility planned additional sampling to see how widely the radioactive substances have spread, he said.



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