UPDATE AS OF 9:30 A.M., MARCH 26
Japanese scientists yesterday detected higher levels radioactive iodine in seawater at water outlets near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“Iodine 131 was detected at a level 1,250 times the national safety limit,” Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said during a news conference. Officials said there is no immediate danger to residents near the plant from these levels.
Samples taken on Friday were significantly higher than those taken on Wednesday, which had 147 times the legal concentration of I-131. Authorities said the concentration of radioactive materials in the water will decrease as the water is diluted by ocean currents. Indeed, a sample taken at 8:50 a.m. on Friday had one-fifth the concentration of I-131 as the earlier measurement. Three subsequent measurements that morning showed fluctuation. All were below the highest level found at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
“As of now, there is no report of adverse impact on the marine life, especially beyond kilometers [of the plant],” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. “Experts say there is a very low possibility, but we must strengthen our monitoring.”
Efforts to cool the reactors and fuel pools continues at the Daiichi site. Fresh water is now being used to cool reactors 1, 2 and 3 in lieu of seawater. Workers began injecting fresh water at reactors 1 and 3 on March 25 and at reactor 2 on March 26. Meanwhile, two U.S. Navy barges carrying 500,000 gallons fresh water are en route to a port 37 miles south of the Fukushima plant.