UPDATE AS OF 11:30 A.M. EDT, THURSDAY, MARCH 31:
A minuscule amount of radioactive iodine was detected in milk in Spokane, Wash., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported.
The agency said the level detected-0.8 picocuries per liter-is more than 5,000 times lower than the level that would prompt any action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to pull milk from grocery stores. "These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children," the EPA said.
The EPA has increased its nationwide monitoring of milk, rain water and drinking water (see the agency's website for information on radiation air monitoring).
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is increasing its efforts to remove radioactive water that has pooled inside concrete vaults that house pipes near the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Maintaining cooling water flow to the reactors and used nuclear fuel storage pools and containing and removing the contaminated water continue to be priorities for workers at the site.
Contaminated water was found in the basements of the turbine buildings at reactors 1-4 and in the concrete vaults outside the buildings. Workers finished pumping water from the reactor 3 turbine building and are removing water from the reactor 1 tunnel into a storage tank. Today, TEPCO has been pumping contaminated water from the reactor 2 turbine building into a storage tank.
Freshwater injection continues to cool reactors 1, 2, and 3. The company also is spraying cooling water into the used nuclear fuel storage pools at reactors 1-4. (For information on how spent fuel pools work, see NEI's video.)
All reactors at the Fukushima Daini site remain in safe condition. Smoke seen at reactor 1 at the Daini site on Wednesday resulted from a short circuit in a sump pump at the reactor. The smoke stopped after workers at the facility opened the power supply to the breaker for the pump. The cause of the short circuit is being investigated.