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Radiation Leaks Now Harmful to Humans

published  First Published: 14/03/2011
Article written by: Nigel Brookson

Radiation Leaks now Harmful

Some say the inevitable has happened. Radiation levels near quake-effected nuclear plant; Fukushima No.1 plant, 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo are now harmful to human health, Japan's government says after several explosions and fires there.

"There is no doubt that unlike in the past, the figures are the level at which human health can be affected," said chief government spokesman Yukio Edano.

Tens of thousands have already been evacuated within a radius of 20km from the Fukushima No.1 plant, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan urging people living within 10km of the exclusion zone around the plant to stay indoors.

Early on Tuesday a blast hit the number-two reactor there. Edano also said that there was an explosion which started a fire at the number-four reactor.

Although the number-four reactor was shut for maintenance when the quake and tsunami struck last Friday, "spent nuclear fuel in the reactor heated up, creating hydrogen and triggered a hydrogen explosion". He said radioactive substances were leaked along with the hydrogen.

"Please keep in mind that what is burning is not nuclear fuel itself," Edano said. "We'll do our best to put out or control the fire as soon as possible."

Similar hydrogen blasts had hit the number-one and number-three reactors on Saturday and Monday. Buildings housing four of the six reactors at the plant, which opened in 1971, have now been hit by explosions.

Edano said radioactive substances might spread outside the 20-30km area but would dissipate the farther they spread.

It was still unclear whether the container sealing the number-two reactor had been breached.

The plant operator initially told the nuclear safety agency that it had not been holed, but later said it was still checking for any breach.

Japan is frantically battling a nuclear emergency after Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami cut power to the 40-year-old plant and knocked out cooling systems. Officials have struggled to prevent meltdowns at the damaged reactors, saying fuel rods may have been critically damaged by overheating.

As of today, Japan has not reported the kind of radiation leakage that would accompany a major meltdown, and for not only Japan's sake, but neighboring countries we hope that does not happen, but local residents already struggling with the aftermath of the quake and tsunami, are looking for shelter and staying indoors. Food and fresh, safe drinking water, are their other concerns.

One thing is for sure, Japan will be seeing the effects of this quake, and the radiation leaks, even if they get no worse for many years to come.



Related Article: Japan Devastated by Earthquake Tsunami, Health Effects from Radiation


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