Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiation detected in US rainwater

Traces of radioactive iodine linked to quake-hit Japan's nuclear power plant have been found in rainwater samples taken last week in Massachusetts, US.

The low level of radioiodine-131detected in Massachusetts rainwater samples is comparable to the amounts found in California, Washington and Pennsylvania.

However, public health officials say the pollution poses no threat to drinking supplies, Reuters reported on Monday.

"The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach.

"We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution," he added.

Health officials also say they have found no detectable radiation in air samples examined in Massachusetts.

On March 11, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, off the northeast coast of Japan's main island, unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours.

The quake set off the nuclear problems by knocking out power to cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The incident caused nuclear meltdown and radiation leaks at the facility.

On Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials announced that leaks have been detected at units 1, 2 and 3 of the reactor and there no timeline in sight to stop the leakage.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Sunday that radioactive iodine in the waters off the quake-hit site rose to 1,850 times the usual level.

Japan has ordered a halt in shipment of a range of farm products, as radiation was detected in vegetables from Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan has announced that nearly 28,000 people have died or are feared dead as a result of the disastrous quake and tsunami.

The quake is now considered Japan's deadliest natural disaster since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which claimed the lives of more than 142,000 people.

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