March 31, 2011
The radiation level in the ocean near the Fukushima nuclear plant keeps rising. It is now 4,385 times above what is considered normal. This is a significant increase from the yesterday’s report that the I-131 isotope found in the water was 3,355 times the regulatory limit.
Japanese officialdom does not consider this a problem. They explain that the isotope loses half its radiation every eight days and should dilute over time. Trace amounts of radioactive cesium-137 have been found in anchovies as far away as Chiba, near Tokyo.
In addition to the alarming level of radiation in sea water, the Japanese report high levels of radiation in soil outside of the evacuation zone. “As a ratio, it was about two times higher” than levels at which the agency recommends evacuations,” International Atomic Energy Agency bureaucrat Elena Buglova said at a news conference.
The IAEA said cesium 137 was measured in one village at a level exceeding the standard that the Soviet Union used as a gauge to recommend abandoning land surrounding the Chernobyl reactor. At another location not precisely identified by the agency it was more than double the Soviet standard, according to the New York Times.
The latest measurements were made between March 18 and March 26.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it was looking into the IAEA report. Officials say they believe there is no reason to enlarge the evacuation zone and move more people away from the expanding threat.
“One sample is over the limit, so we have to continue monitoring the situation,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
The presence of radiation may prevent the Japanese from farming in the area. Radiation has entered the food chain and has been detected in milk and vegetables, prompting the government to release an extensive list of banned food products. It is also in tap water. Almost a hundred individually tested foods, including spinach, milk, cabbage and celery, are contaminated with radioactivity.