Radioactive water being removed from Fukushima plant

This image from video taken by Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces on March 27, 2011 shows the exterior of reactor no. 1 building of the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 (Dai-Ichi) nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, in Futaba district in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo / HO / Japan's Ground Self-Defence) FORCES
Plutonium has been detected in the soil at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Kyodo news agency reports, while radioactive water is being removed from inside the buildings in order to allow engineers to repair the plant’s cooling system.

The Agency quotes Tokyo Electric Power Co as saying plutonium has been detected in the soil at five locations at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The operator of the nuclear complex said that the plutonium is believed to have been discharged from nuclear fuel at the plant, which was damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Kyodo News later reported it is not known which reactor the plutonium came from, but monitoring will be increased after it was detected at the Fukushima plant.

The Agency also quotes the Tokyo Electric Power Co. as saying high levels of radiation exceeding 1,000 millisieverts per hour were found in the water in a trench outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Similarly high levels of radioactivity have been found in a pool of water in the basement of the turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, raising concerns that radioactive substances may have seeped into the environment, including the sea nearby.

Tokyo Electric Power – the company operating the plant – appealed to the French government on Monday for help in controlling the complex.

The radioactive water found at the No. 2 reactor is believed to have leaked into the basement after having “contact with fuel rods (in the reactor's core) that have partially melted,'' Japanese official spokesperson Yukio Edano said Monday.

He also added that a continuation of the meltdown is not likely.
Edano said the government will put all its efforts into preventing the contaminated water from getting into seawater or seeping below ground.

The plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. corrected its earlier report, saying the level of radiation in the water at the No. 2 reactor was 100,000 times higher than usual as opposed to an earlier number of 10 million. 

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday that many residents decided to return to their homes in the area adjacent to the Fukushima plant. Those living within 20-30 kilometers of the nuclear plant were first asked not to leave in order not to get a possible high dose of radiation. Later, Japan's government asked people in the zone to leave voluntarily due to poor supply of the area.

Meanwhile, high levels of radiation were again detected in the sea water.  The Japanese nuclear agency claims, however, that there is no sign of radioactive water from the plant getting into sea, and says it is working on trying to prevent that from happening.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still recommending that Russian nationals not visit Japan due to the worsening conditions at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. .“We are still advising Russian nationals to refrain from trips to Japan as tourists or with any other private purposes, and those Russians already in the country to refrain from visiting the affected areas due to the very difficult situation there” says the official website of the Ministry.