China, South Korea Face No Immediate Threat From Radioactive Leaks In Japan


The air and seawater in China is not under immediate threat from radioactive leaks following the explosions at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant in Japan, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

China’s National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said in a statement that in the next three days, the radioactive fallout would mainly affect the waters off Fukushima, according to Xinhua.

China is located to the west of Japan. The contaminants, which previously reached the waters off the northeast coast of Tokyo, had moved east to the Pacific Ocean with the currents, according to the statement.

The forecast from an emergency response center in Beijing, which is affiliated with the World Meteorological Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, also indicated that the air current would bring the contaminants east into the Pacific Ocean. China would remain unaffected over the next three days, the center said.

China’s national nuclear emergency coordination committee said the air monitoring results from 41 cities across China also remained normal as of 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), the report added.

In neighboring South Korea, fears over possible radiation contamination are growing after the Fukushima plant was damaged by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday. Japan has been working desperately to avoid a meltdown.

Still, South Korean government officials and experts have said the likelihood of contamination by radiation leaked from Japan’s Fukushima plant, some 1,000 km east of the Korean Peninsula, is slim because the current winds are westerly.

South Korea on Thursday started checking radiation levels for people arriving from quake-hit Japan as part of its efforts to better protect public health, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The science ministry and the state-run Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) said residual radiation detection gates have been set up at Incheon and Gimpo international airports that have direct flights to Japan, according to the report.

Both Incheon and Gimpo airports, located near Seoul, currently have two gates each that are able to detect even the minutest traces of radiation. The gates will screen people and carry-on luggage.

“If radiation levels exceed 100 microsieverts, which is 1,000 times higher than normal, the person will be sent to the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Science for a detailed medical checkup,” Kim In-hwan, a senior research fellow at KINS, was quoted as saying.

Those who have lower levels will pass inspection, but they will be told how best to decontaminate themselves and their belongings.

“For people who are concerned even if residual radiation levels are not high, they can be referred to a medical facility,” Kim said. The screening will be a voluntary process.

Related to the screening process, inspectors at Inchon International Airport said one Japanese man from Fukushima Prefecture was found to have been contaminated with radiation. The radiation level was checked at just 1 microsievert with radiation detected in the man’s coat and shoes. His readings fell to normal levels once he removed the coat and took off his shoes.

The passenger checks come as Seoul announced earlier in the week that it will carefully examine all food imports from Japan after radioactive materials were released from the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, 230 km north of Tokyo.

The nation was rocked by a massive 9.8-magnitude earthquake and killer tsunami last Friday.


KUNA is the Kuwait News Agency

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