Reactor No. 3 Smoke Again, Tokyo’s Tap Water Levels, Tainted Food Halted

03/23/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) – Black smoke was rising from the building of reactor No. 3 causing the evacuation of workers and firefighters at 4:20 p.m. today. The cause was unknown.

The temperature of reactor No. 1 has risen about 400 degrees Celsius in its pressure container at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, compared to a standard limit of 302 degrees, according to the safety agency. Water and an acid solution will be pumped directly into the reactor to lower its temperature.

The radiation level in reactor No. 2 is at high levels and most of the equipment is damaged. Water will continue to be poured into the spent fuel rod’s pool by Japan’s Hyper Rescue Team.

Water will also be poured into the suppression pool of reactor No.3. to stabilize it. The Hyper Rescue Team will continue spraying water into the spent fuel pools of reactor No. 3 and No. 4.

Contaminated food halted
The government ordered restrictions of agricultural products after radiation levels were above limits stipulated by the food safety law, according to Yukio Edano, a top government spokesman, at a news conference today. The government wants to stop tainted products from reaching consumers.

The restrictions of food contaminated by radioactive material has been expanded to the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi and Guma. The government also stopped the sales of raw milk produced in Fukushima.

“Experts agree that there is not any health impact by consuming these food items on a some occasions, so we ask that people respond calmly without reacting excessively,” Edano said. “You can safely consume products that have already been distributed and there will no adverse health impact.”

However, Tokyoites are not taking any chances and not buying vegetables from the disaster areas, according to Hiro Yamada, owner of a vegetable shop in Tokyo.

“When I go to the vegetable exchange market every morning,” he said. “No one is buying the products from those areas. They are trash.”

The contaminated food contains Iodine-131. It differs from regular iodine because it is radioactive. It collects in the human thyroid gland because the thyroid quickly absorbs iodine and assumes the iodine-131 strain is like any other form. To fight off iodine-131, doctors usually prescribe iodine pills that fill up the thyroid so there’s no more room and force the iodine-131 out of the body. Experts also say iodine-131 dissipates quickly in the air, with half of it disappearing every eight days.

Tap Water
The government warned residents in some villages in Fukushima prefecture about elevated radiation levels found in tap water. They were told not to drink it.

Additionally, in Tokyo elevated radiation levels at Katsushika Kanamachi Water Purification Plant were detected at 210 becquerels per liter of iodine-131, which is more than twice the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants. Government officials said parents should stop giving the tap water to babies, but they should not worry if the infants already had consumed small amounts. Edano urged calm.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will provide 240,000 bottles of water to the estimated 80,000 infants who are using tap water from Katsushika Kanamachi’s plant.

“Even if you (children and adults) drink this water for one year, it will not affect people’s health,” Edano said today.

After the announcement bottled water was difficult to fine in Tokyo and most markets were sold out.

Cost of crisis
The disaster is likely to cost up to $309 billion, according to a government estimate today.

The death toll continued to jump up, with more than 9,400 bodies counted and more than 14,700 people listed as missing.

US imports of Japan’s food
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it will halt imports of dairy products and produce from the area of Japan where the nuclear reactor is leaking radiation. The FDA said those foods will be detained at entry and will not be sold to the public.

Other foods imported from Japan such as seafood will be sold to the public but screened first for radiation.

Japanese foods make up less than 4 percent of U.S. imports. “We expect no risk to the U.S. food supply from radiation,” the FDA said.

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