Low Levels of Fukushima Radiation Fallout Detected Worldwide

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The Fukushima nuclear plant damaged on March 11 by the massive 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami has leaked radiation into the air. Now, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials say seawater is contaminated around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant drainage canals, initially stating levels rose to 10 million times normal at Reactor 2, forcing the workers to evacuate. TEPCO later retracted the statement, saying that they were mistaken, and levels were "only" 100,000 times normal.

Because of the new reports, countries worldwide are screening vigilantly, and at least six have detected radiation in small amounts in the air, water, and soil.

United States Contaminated

Iodine-131 has been detected in various states in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has increased its normal radiation monitoring to compensate for the Japanese nuclear fallout. The EPA reported that on March 22, Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii, showed elevated levels of radiation in its rainwater, and on March 23, Oregon and Washington state detected elevated radiation in its rainwater as well. Radiation was detected in Pennsylvania's rainwater on March 28, and the EPA is conducting more tests to confirm the state's findings. In all cases, he EPA reported that the radiation levels were so low that it posed no health risks.


China Contaminated

Over the March 25-27 weekend, China announced food and water contamination checks for 14 provinces in the northeastern and southeastern coastal areas. Low levels of Iodine-131 contamination was detected in the northeastern Heilongjiang province, but it is so little that Chinese Ministry of Health officials says it "is harmless," and residents of the affected counties are "staying calm."

The southeastern coastal areas also show small amounts of Iodine-131; however, National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee officials state that no extra protection is needed, as it is "not harmful to humans.

South Korea Contaminated

The Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) reported today that it had detected trace amounts of radiationin Gangwon the week before and had traced it to Fukushima. A detection center in the northeastern region of South Korea found the Xenon 133 contaminants, but officials stated that it would not harm humans because the amount was so little. However, because of the findings, KINS stated that it would initiate daily contamination testing of the nation's air and water.

Iceland Contaminated

The Icelandic Radiation Safety Authority (IRSA) reported March 22 that it found Iodine-131 in the Reykjavik radiation detection center's air filter. IRSA's head, Sigurdur Emil Palsson, stated the radiation came from the Japanese fallout. Iceland was the first European nation to detect the radiation after the initial Fukushima explosion. An official from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation's (CTBTO) Vienna branch, stated the radiation found was "extremely small amounts," so it does not pose any risks.

Canada Contaminated

Numerous areas in British Columbia reported that on March 19, 20 and 23, researchers from Simon Fraser University found Iodine-131. Samples of rainwater collected from the university and from seaweed collected from North Vancouver showed the contamination. Kris Starosta, a SFU nuclear scientist stated that the amounts are so small that it is not harmful to humans. Traces of the same radiation have also been found in Newfoundland, but again, they are also too small to harm humans.

Switzerland Contaminated

The Federal Health Office of Switzerland has reported that its radiation sensor equipped plane had detected a small amount of radiation attributed to the Japanese nuclear fallout, and determined it to be Iodine-131. However, the office also reported that the radiation detected is so little that it will not harm the nation's citizens. The plane conducts regular checks for radiation and is equipped with a radiation sensor for the job.

François Byrde from Swiss government-run Spiez Laboratory stated that the amount of radiation found from the Japanese Fukuishima fallout is much less than what Swiss people are exposed to daily. The Fukushima problems mixed with the nation's fear of further contamination, Swiss voters ousted the sitting minister of the Swiss People's Party because the party is "pro-nuclear" in favor of the "Green Party."

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