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NEWS: Radioactive iodine found in Tokyo tap water, rainfall

The Fukushima nuclear power plant releases radiation

The Fukushima nuclear power plant releases radiation

Reuters reports that, “A sample of tap water from the Japanese capital shows a tiny level of radioactive iodine after an earthquake and tsunami damaged a nuclear power plant 240 km north of Tokyo, the government said on Saturday. The sample contained 1.5 becquerals per kg of iodine 131, well below the tolerable limit for food and drink of 300 becquerals per kg, the government added. Jiji news agency said the presence of radioactive iodine in Tokyo tap water was rare.”

Xinhua notes, “Radioactive iodine was found in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Yamanashi, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures, the Kyodo News said, citing the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The ministry added that the levels detected in the investigation alone would not affect human health. …The ministry said that a separate research has already shown that radioactive materials in the air and tap water in Tokyo and the five prefectures pose no threat to human health, according to Kyodo News report.”

The Globe and Mail says, “The Health Ministry also said that radioactive iodine slightly above government safety limits was found in drinking water at one point Thursday in a sampling from Fukushima prefecture, the site of the nuclear plant, but later tests showed the level had fallen again.”

CBC adds, “Radiation has (also) turned up in spinach and milk from as far as 120 kilometres away. Minuscule amounts of radioactive iodine are being found in tap water in Tokyo and rainfall and dust over a wider area. …’I’m worried, really worried,’ said Mayumi Mizutani, a 58-year-old Tokyo resident shopping for bottled water at a neighbourhood supermarket out of concern for her visiting two-year-old grandchild. …Contamination of food and water compounds the government’s difficulties, heightening the broader public’s sense of dread about safety. Consumers in markets snapped up bottled water, shunned spinach from Ibaraki — the prefecture where the tainted spinach was found — and overall express concern about food safety. Experts have said the amounts of iodine detected in milk, spinach and water pose no discernible risks to public health unless consumed in enormous quantities over a long period of time. Edano, the government spokesman, tried to reassure the public for a second day running Sunday.”

And the Wall Street Journal reports, “Easterly winds across Japan have blown most of the low-level radiation from reactors at Fukushima Daiichi across the Pacific Ocean, where it should rapidly dissolve in seawater and pose little risk to marine life or commercial seafood fisheries, (Japanese) scientists and federal officials said Friday.  …A swift deep current along the coast of Japan is expected to pull the low concentration of radioactive particles from the Fukushima plant to a depth of about 300 feet and dilute it all by a factor of 50 to 100, researchers said. …Swept out to sea, depending on the material, many radioactive isotopes such as cesium-137 and strontium-90 usually sink and then remain suspended at depth in the ocean water, sometimes for decades, but have little direct effect on salt-water fish, scientists said.”

Greenpeace says, “(The Fukushima nuclear crisis) shows us that nuclear power is inherently unsafe. Nuclear reactors are a dirty and dangerous power source, and will always be vulnerable to the potentially deadly combination of human error, design failure and natural disaster. Greenpeace is calling for the phase out of reactors around the world, an end to construction of new commercial nuclear reactors. Governments should instead invest in renewable energy resources that are not only environmentally sound but also affordable and reliable.” A Greenpeace ‘question and answer’ page on the current crisis in Japan can be read at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/nuclear/safety/accidents/Fukushima-nuclear-disaster/QA-on-Nuclear-Power-and-Climate-Change/#position.

The Council of Canadians rejects nuclear power because it poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment. It is neither clean, safe, peaceful, nor economic. We are opposed to the further expansion of nuclear power in our country. Faced with climate change and diminishing energy resources globally, we recognize the need for a just transition away from a fossil fuel and nuclear dependent society, while ensuring Canadians access to basic energy needs, to sustainable, publicly funded and publicly delivered energy alternatives that benefit both workers and their communities. We support renewable, non-invasive energy sources (such as solar and wind power), energy efficiency and conservation.