Plutonium Found In Soil Outside Japanese Nuke Plant
TOKYO - Tiny amounts of plutonium have been detected in the soil outside of the stricken Japanese nuclear complex, the plant operator said Monday.
Experts had expected traces would be detected once crews began searching for it, because plutonium is present in the production of nuclear energy.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the amounts found at five sites during testing last week were very small and were not a risk to public health.
TEPCO official Jun Tsuruoka said only two of the plutonium samples were believed to be from a leaking reactor. The other three samples were from earlier nuclear tests, he said. Years of weapons testing in the atmosphere have left trace amounts of plutonium in many places around the world.
But finding plutonium is a concern because it is the most toxic of isotopes that can be released from a nuclear reactor. It can be fatal to humans in very tiny doses and does not decay quickly.
The report followed another discovery Monday: New pools of radioactive water are leaking from the plant.
Officials believe the contaminated water was responsible for radioactivity levels soaring at the coastal complex on Sunday, causing more radiation to seep into soil and seawater, before levels fell again.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, was crippled March 11 when a tsunami spawned by a powerful earthquake slammed into Japan's northeastern coast. The huge wave engulfed much of the complex, and destroyed the crucial power systems needed to cool the complex's nuclear fuel rods.
Since then, three of the complex's six units 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.
Experts warn that Japan faces a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous atomic crisis in 25 years.
"This is far beyond what one nation can handle — it needs to be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council," said Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California. "In my humble opinion, this is more important than the Libya no-fly zone."
Murray Jennex, a nuclear power plant expert and associate professor at San Diego State University, said "there's not really a plan B" other than to dry out the plant, get power restored and start cooling it down.
"What we're now in is a long slog period with lots of small, unsexy steps that have to be taken to pull the whole thing together," he told Reuters.
The good news, he said, was that the reactor cores appeared to be cooling down.
Confusion at the plant has intensified fears that the nuclear crisis will last weeks, months or years amid alarms over radiation making its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far away as Tokyo.
The troubles have eclipsed Pennsylvania's 1979 crisis at Three Mile Island, when a partial meltdown raised fears of widespread radiation release, but is still well short of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which killed at least 31 people with radiation sickness, raised long-term cancer rates, and spewed radiation for hundreds of miles.
While parts of the Japanese plant has been reconnected to the power grid, the contaminated water — which has now been found in numerous places around the complex, including the basements of several buildings — must be pumped out before electricity can be restored to the cooling system.
That has left officials struggling with two sometimes-contradictory efforts: pumping in water to keep the fuel rods cool and pumping out — and then safely storing — contaminated water.
Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, called that balance "very delicate work."
He also said workers were still looking for safe ways to store the radioactive water. "We are exploring all means," he said.
The buildup of radioactive water first became a problem last week, when it splashed over the boots of two workers, burning them and prompting a temporary suspension of work.
Then on Monday, TEPCO officials said workers had found more radioactive water in deep trenches used for pipes and electrical wiring outside three units.
The contaminated water has been emitting radiation exposures more than four times the amount that the government considers safe for workers.
The five workers in the area at the time were not hurt, said TEPCO spokesman Takashi Kurita.
Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>
DENVER - Two doctors from Colorado claim that their patient, a baby boy, died of an overdose on marijuana. The case in question happened in 2015 the second year of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado. An 11-month-old boy came into the ER after a seizure, barely conscious.>>
KHQ.COM - Cards Against Humanity is known for unique stunts around this time of year. In years past, in an effort to combat Black Friday, they've had people send them $5 and literally sent nothing in return. Just like they said they would. They've also mailed people poop in a box. 30,000 bought it. They've even raised $100,000 to dig a giant hole in the ground.>>
WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) - Authorities say they have made an arrest in the slaying of a New Jersey woman who was beaten to death while house-sitting. Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton says additional details will be announced at a news conference Friday afternoon. Twenty-six-year-old Shawneeq Carter was found dead inside the Woodbury home of an acquaintance on Sept. 23.>>
- The Senate Finance Committee approved the $1.5 trillion Republican tax overhaul proposal Thursday night, just hours after the House of Representatives passed the bill. The bill repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, cuts taxes for corporations and individuals, and decreases the number of tax brackets. “We can grow our economy and create thousands of jobs with the #TaxCutsandJobsAct,” Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers wrote on Twitter. “This...>>
KHQ.COM - A police report obtained by The Daily Mail shows that Sylvester Stallone was accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl into a sex act with him and his bodyguard at a Las Vegas hotel in 1986. Stallone has denied the allegations, saying "it never happened." According to the police report, the "girl claimed star made her give him and his bodyguard oral sex and threatened they would 'beat her head in' if she ever told.">>
Navy issues updated statement 'irresponsible and immature act' after pilots draw obscene image in the sky over Okanogan Co.
OMAK, Wash. - I can picture the Austin Powers bit now. The people of Omak looking up at the sky and seeing a giant (Fill in the blank innuendo here) just like in 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. If you're unfamiliar, I'll save you a Google search. A simple, yet effectively funny joke. Except the U.S. Navy doesn't see humor in the real-life version at all.>>