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Gov't, Tokyo Electric start to gauge nuke crisis' impact on sea.

TOKYO, March 22 Kyodo

(EDS: TO BE UPDATED)

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. began studying the ongoing nuclear crisis' impact on the sea Tuesday, after abnormally high levels of radioactive materials were detected in seawater near the crisis-hit nuclear power plant the previous day.

The radiation levels in seawater do not pose an immediate threat to the human body, the government said, but they are well above normal, fanning concerns over contamination of seawater and the effects on fishery products.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it will study seawater at eight locations every 10 kilometers in the sea of 30 km off the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

The utility also plans to study seawater at four locations off the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture.

According to Tokyo Electric, radioactive iodine-131 was detected Monday in the seawater samples at levels 126.7 times higher than the legal concentration limit. Levels of cesium-134 were 24.8 times higher and those of cesium-137 16.5 times higher while a trace amount of cobalt 58 was detected in a sample of seawater taken from near the plant.

No radioactive substances were detected in seawater before the disaster in recent testing.

Considering that people do not drink seawater, the immediate risk to human health is unlikely, it added.

But the agency did not rule out the possibility of the contaminated seawater affecting fishery products in the future.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a press conference that it is too early to evaluate the impact of the contaminated seawater on fishery products, but he added that the government will start analyzing it soon.

Meanwhile, radiation 1,600 times higher than normal levels has been detected around the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which is about 20 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, International Atomic Energy Agency officials said Monday.

Data collected by an IAEA team show that radiation levels of 161 microsievert per hour have been detected in the area, the officials said.

Following a magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, the cooling functions failed at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors and their cores are believed to have partially melted.

The remaining No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 units were under maintenance at the time of the earthquake, but No. 4 is different in that all the fuel was not in the reactor core but was in the spent-fuel pool. The No. 4 unit's fuel pool also lost its cooling function and fire broke out twice.

Also, the roofs and upper walls of the buildings that house the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors have been blown away by hydrogen explosions.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 28, 2011
Words:463
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