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More Radioactive Substances Found in Seawater Near Fukushima Nuke Plant
28/03/2011 13:31:00
More high levels of radioactive material have been found in seawater near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says samples collected 30 metres from one of the plant's water outlets on Sunday contained 46 becquerels per cubic centimetre of iodine-131. That's 1,150 times higher than the regulated standard level.

On Friday and Saturday, water samples collected 330 metres south of another outlet showed levels of iodine-131 that were higher than 1,000 times the standard level. However, on Sunday the levels had dropped to 250 times the standard level.

The government's nuclear safety agency says radioactive materials may have leaked from the plant and drifted with the current from south to north.

TEPCO is struggling to remove highly radioactive water from the turbine buildings of three reactors before work to restore their cooling systems can begin. Then on Tuesday, the company intends to pump fresh water, instead of sea water, into spent fuel storage pools of two reactors.

Fresh water was pumped into the reactors by Saturday, to prevent the salt water from corroding the cooling system.

Radioactive levels in the air were decreasing at most observation points in the surrounding areas on Monday. The reading in Fukushima City, 65 kilometres northwest of the nuclear power plant, was 3.84 microsieverts per hour at 1.00 a.m. (local time).

The annual total limit of radiation exposure considered safe for humans is 1,000 microsieverts based on standards set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Meanwhile, many people in Japan are reportedly becoming increasingly concerned about what is going to happen in the future

The Japanese government has attacked the operator of the crippled nuclear plant for "unacceptable" mistakes, with workers battling to stop radiation leaks at the Fukushima plant, hit by a quake and tsunami over two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Japan has lifted a tsunami warning that was issued after another earthquake off its northern coast.

The 6.5-magnitude quake struck at 0723 local time on Monday (22.23 GMT Sunday), 109km east of the badly damaged port city of Sendai. It is not reported to have caused any injuries or damage.

28,000 People Dead or Missing After March 11 Quake

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 that devastated Japan's northeast coast and the powerful tsunami it triggered is now known to have left more than 28,000 people dead or missing.

The National Police Agency says that as of 6.00 p.m. (local time) on Monday, 10,901 people had been confirmed dead and 17,621 listed as missing. Police have identified 8,030 of the bodies. More than 190,000 people are living in temporary shelters.

The largest number of deaths - 6,627 - has been reported in Miyagi Prefecture, with 3,242 dead in Iwate and 974 in Fukushima.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima are the prefectures hardest-hit by the quake and tsunami.

The number of confirmed deaths in Fukushima is low because search operations have been suspended in areas 20 kilometres from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The number of dead and missing is expected to rise sharply in some coastal areas devastated by the tsunami when local officials grasp the whole picture of the damage.

Housing the survivors

The construction of temporary housing in disaster-stricken Miyagi prefecture began Monday.

The prefecture said that since more than 80,000 residents are taking shelter within Miyagi, it will build over 1,000 housing units in the cities of Sendai, Ishinomaki and elsewhere.

Work on the foundations for 135 emergency homes began on land owned by Ishinomaki city, where more than 25,000 residents remain in evacuation centres.

Workers laid down fresh gravel and drove pickets into the ground.

The city also began accepting applications on Saturday from people hoping to occupy these units. As more than 730 applications were filed on Saturday alone, lots are to be drawn in late April to decide who will live there.

A man who applied on Monday expressed the hope that authorities would build as many temporary housing units as possible, as the quake victims cannot stay in evacuation shelters indefinitely.

Miyagi prefecture says the units will be rent-free for up to two years.

For the first time since the disaster, the government has permitted a foreign medical team to enter the country to treat victims, the Japan Times reports.

The health ministry has lifted a ban on holders of foreign medical licences from practising in Japan, allowing a team of 53 medical aid workers from Israel, including 14 doctors and seven nurses, to work.

Some 20,000 US troops are bolstering Japan's Self-Defence Forces, delivering aid to some of the worst-hit areas in what is said to be the biggest bilateral humanitarian mission the US has conducted in Japan.

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