April 5, 2011

Japan Sets Standard For Radiation Level In Fish

Japan is setting a new standard for the amount of radiation allowed in fish for the first time.

The country's decision comes after over 7.5 million times the legal limit for radiation in seawater was found just off a tsunami-damaged nuclear plant.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government will apply the maximum allowable radiation limit for vegetables to fish.

The decision comes after the health ministry reported that fish caught off Ibaraki prefecture contained levels of radioactive iodine that exceeded the new legal limit.

Radiation has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake spawned a massive tsunami that inundated the complex.

The tsunami flattened about 250 miles of the northeastern coast, killing up to 25,000 people.  Tens of thousands more lost their homes and several thousands were forced from the area near the plant because of radiation concerns.

Many of those "radiation refugees" have grown frustrated with the mandatory 12-mile no-go zone, and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Tuesday that it would give affected towns $240,000 each.

Experts said that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific, but they also said it is unclear what the long-term effects of large amounts of contamination will be.

TEPCO said in a statement that even the large amounts would have "no immediate impact" on the environment, but said it is working to stop the leak as soon as possible.

The readings were taken closer to the plant than before and did not necessarily reflect a worsening of the contamination.

Radioactivity is pouring into the ocean because workers at the plant have been forced to use a makeshift method of bringing down temperatures and pressure by pumping water into the reactors and allowing it to gush out wherever it can. 

It means that highly radioactive water is pooling throughout the plant and is making its way to the ocean.  Workers are trying to desperately find a place to store it because it is preventing them from restoring normal cooling systems.

Workers have pumped over 3 million gallons of less contaminated water into the sea in order to make room in a storage facility for the more highly radioactive water.


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