Tap water samples from Tokyo and its vicinities showed small but safe amounts of radioactive iodine, central and local governments said Monday, amid continuing concern over radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant No.1 nuclear reactor, located 230 km north of Tokyo.
According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 2.9 becquerels of iodine per kiloliter of water was found in drinking water samples collected on Sunday in Tokyo, 10 becquerels in Tochigi Prefecture, 5.9 becquerels in Gunma Prefecture and 3.6 becquerels in Niigata Prefecture.
Four other areas also showed a tiny level of radioactive iodine.
Separately, Fukushima local government said iodine was detected in a sample collected on Monday morning in the area.
Fukushima, where the nuclear power plant is located, takes its own readings. Cesium was also detected in a sample in three prefectures including Fukushima, but not found in Tokyo. All the numbers were below the government safety limits for iodine at 300 becquerels per kiloliter of water and 200 becquerels for cesium.
The nuclear power plant was damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami and continued to leak radioactive substances into the air following a series of explosions, raising fear of radiation-contaminated food and water in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.
The government decided on Monday to stop shipments of spinach and raw milk from the areas near the plant after tests found radiation levels in the products exceeded safety limits.
On March 18, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised the crisis level at the Fukushima plant to 5 from 4 on a 7-level international scale of atomic accidents, putting the current crisis at the same level as the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the US. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was put at the highest level of 7.