Highly toxic plutonium in soil 45km from Fukushima plants

Original story from The Mainichi Daily News 1st of October, 2011

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced on Sept. 30 that it had detected highly-toxic plutonium apparently from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power plant in soil at six locations including Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture.

It is the first discovery of the highly-toxic radioactive substance outside the nuclear plant since the outbreak of the disaster in mid-March. The ministry also said radioactive strontium was detected in a wide swath of Fukushima Prefecture within a radius of 80 kilometers from the troubled nuclear power plant, underscoring the fact that the nuclear crisis has been affecting wide areas.

The ministry conducted inspections on soil at 100 locations within a radius of 80 kilometers from the crippled nuclear power plant in June and July. Plutonium-238, believed to have come from the crippled nuclear plant, was detected in six locations including Iitate, Futaba and Namie. Plutonium-239 and -240 were also detected in many locations, but the ministry said it was not clear whether they were directly linked to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

According to the ministry, the levels of radiation in the plutonium detected fall below the levels of radiation in plutonium believed to have come from atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the past. But because very little plutonium-238 had been detected before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, the ministry concluded that it had come from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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