More radioactive water spills at Japan nuke plant
Monday, March 28, 2011
TOKYO (AP) — Workers have discovered new pools of radioactive water leaking from Japan’s crippled nuclear complex that officials believe are behind soaring levels of radiation spreading to soil and seawater.
Crews also detected plutonium — a key ingredient in nuclear weapons — in the soil outside the complex, though officials insisted Monday the finding posed no threat to public health.
Plutonium is present in the fuel at the complex, which has been leaking radiation for more than two weeks, so experts had expected to find traces once crews began searching for evidence of it this week.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant was crippled March 11 when a tsunami spawned by a powerful earthquake slammed into Japan’s northeastern coast. The huge wave destroyed the power systems needed to cool the nuclear fuel rods in the complex, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.
Since then, three of the complex’s six reactors are believed to have partially melted down, and emergency crews have struggled with everything from malfunctioning pumps to dangerous spikes in radiation that have forced temporary evacuations.
Confusion at the plant has intensified fears that the nuclear crisis will continue for months or even years amid alarms over radiation making its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far away as Tokyo.