High levels of strontium detected at Fukushima

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has detected high levels of a radioactive substance that tends to accumulate in human bones.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it took soil samples on May 9th at 3 locations about 500 meters from the No.1 and No.2 reactors and analyzed them.

The utility detected up to 480 becquerels of radioactive strontium 90 per kilogram of soil. That’s about 100 times higher than the maximum reading recorded in Fukushima Prefecture following atmospheric nuclear tests carried out by foreign countries during the Cold War era.

TEPCO reported detecting 2,800 becquerels of strontium 89 per kilogram of soil at the same location.

This is the second time since April that radioactive strontium has been found inside the plant compound.

The substance was also detected in soil and plants more than 30 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power station in March.

When people inhale radioactive strontium, it accumulates in bones. Scientists say that strontium could cause cancer.

Tokyo Electric Power says it believes that radioactive strontium was released from the damaged plant and it will continue to monitor radiation levels.

An expert on radioactive substances says he thinks radioactive strontium may continue to be detected around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But he says the strontium levels that might be detected in soil will be far lower than those of the radioactive cesium released in the accident by a factor of several thousand.

Yoshihiro Ikeuchi of the Japan Chemical Analysis Center says strontium tends to accumulate in bones, like calcium. But he also says its levels in the air are thought to be lower than those for soil and even if people inhale the substance, no health problems will be caused by such internal exposure to radiation.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011 02:59 +0900 (JST)
Copyright NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)


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