Radiation levels in seawater near Japan’s troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have soared to 1,250.8 times above legal limit, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday.
In a test by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Friday morning, radioactive iodine-131 in excess of 1,250.8 times legal standards was found in the Pacific Ocean waters around 330 meters south of the Fukushima plant, near the drain outlets of its troubled four reactors, according to the agency.
The level jumped to its highest in the survey begun this week, which posted 126 times over the legal limit on Tuesday, and 145 times on Thursday respectively.
“This is a relatively high level, but the impact on marine life and seafood would be minor, as radioactive material released into the sea will significantly spread due to tides by the time they are consumed by marine species,” the nuclear agency said in a news conference. “If people drink 500 milliliters of water containing the same level of radioactive iodine, the radiation levels would reach the 1 millisievert limit which people can take safely in one year,” the agency explained.
It also said there will be no significant impact on fishery products, given that fishing is no longer conducted within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 230 kilo-meter north of Tokyo, lost crucial cooling functions for its six reactors after a magnitude 9.0-quake and a 14-meter high tsunami damaged such facilities as seawater pumps and emergency generators on March 11. The plant continues spreading radioactive contamination into the air and water, including the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Meanwhile, as part of ongoing frantic efforts to avoid meltdown, TEPCO on Saturday began injecting fresh water into the No. 2 reactor core to enhance cooling efficiency, following a similar measure for the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors on Friday.
The utility is also trying to remove pools of water containing highly concentrated radioactive substances, after three workers were accidentally exposed to water containing radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level earlier this week.