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Unusually intense radioactivity has been measured in the ocean outside of the nuclear plant Fukushima Daiichi. The test was made 330 m from the plant and found the level of radioactive iodine to be 3.355 times over the normal level.
However, a range of experts as well as the Japanese government are expecting that the ocean currents will spread out the particles, diluting the concentration so much that it will not present a risk to fish and other maritime life. Still, the numbers have been the cause of some concern to people who have bought or consumed fish from the area. In Hong Kong, restaurants check the sea food for radioactivity before serving it while some consumers in Denmark have invested in Geiger counters to make sure their food is clean. However, despite reports that European countries have introduced testing of Japanese food products, experts have said that Europe should generally not be concerned.
In the meantime, while the level of radioactivity in the area around Fukushima is still on the rise, intensive work is done to isolate the source. Previous measurements have suggested that the activity can be traced to the second reactor. The fear is that the fuel source at the core of the reactor is partly destroyed.
The last few days had otherwise shown a decrease in nuclear exposure in the rest of Japan – in the period between March 25-29, no residue of radioactive iodine was found in for example broccoli, spinach and milk. There had also previously been a ban against letting infants drink tap water which was effective in 21 places across four prefectures. Now the ban is only effective in four places – all limited to the Fukushima-prefecture.
The situation at Fukushima Daiichi is still delicate. A few weeks back, the owner of the plant, Tepco, told a press conference that four of the reactors at the plant are so damaged that they need to be taken out and disposed off. The fourth and fifth reactor can still be used but it is unclear if Tepco is planning to actually do so. The owner also promised at the press meeting to improve the conditions of the around 580 workers still working at the plant. A security inspection had revealed that the workers have been sleeping on lead mats in stairways, conference rooms and corridors to protect them against the massive radioactivity in the area. It was also made public that the men only received two meals per day – sometimes consisting of a pack of crackers and a juice box for breakfast.
The company representative also explained that the president of Tepco, which has been highly unpopular and harshly criticized since the earthquake, was recently hospitalized with symptoms of stress and heightened blood pressure. The 71-year-old Masataka Shimuzu has not shown himself in public since March 13.
Soon after the press conference, the government of Japan asked of all the remaining nuclear power plants to adopt new security procedures immediately. As an example, new rules for the emergency supply of cooling systems have now been put into force while it has become a requirement that measures for catastrophe management has to be available at all plants.