Fukushima disaster escalates with reports of plutonium in soil, radioactive water spilling into ocean

Thursday, March 31, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Fukushima, plutonium, health news

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(NaturalNews) All the indicators of a full-fledged nuclear fallout of epic proportions seem to be falling into place as officials at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have now announced that deadly plutonium has been detected both inside and outside the plant's facilities. Levels of radiation 1,150 times the maximum allowable levels have also been detected in ocean water nearly a mile north of the plant's drainage outlets, confirming previous suspicions that the situation at the plant is far from being under control.

According to Kyodo News, soil samples from five different locations surrounding the Fukushima plant tested positive for plutonium. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), owner of the crippled facility, says this plutonium is not a threat to human health, but such a statement is hard to believe considering the sheer potency of the mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium fuel used in some of the reactors' fuel rods (

The fact that plutonium has even been detected at all is highly disturbing because the element emits far fewer gamma rays than other radioactive materials like iodine, cesium, and uranium. So this means that even when it escapes in deadly quantities, plutonium can be difficult to properly detect until it is too late.

Plutonium 239 is generally recognized as the most deadly element in the world, as just a few milligrams of it in a smoke plume can contaminate the environment for thousands of years ( And now that plutonium has been detected even in small, allegedly "harmless" amounts, there is no telling the extent to which this deadly nuclear component will destroy the environment and human health.

The plutonium discovery also suggests that the massive March 14 explosion of Reactor 3, the reactor that contains plutonium MOX fuel, was at least partially responsible for the now-confirmed escape of this deadly element into the environment. Partial meltdowns within the reactor cores have also contaminated cooling water with various radioactive materials, and officials say they appear to be leaking into the water trenches that drain into the ocean.

TEPCO is allegedly now working to pump the contaminated water out of the reactors and into storage tanks. Because radiation levels have now exceeded the legal limit of 100 millisieverts, officials have arbitrarily raised that limit to 250 millisieverts in order to keep relief efforts going. As of Monday, 19 plant workers have been exposed to levels of radiation exceeding maximum limits, and several have had to be hospitalized.

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