More radiation from Japan’s nuclear crisis has reached the mainland U.S. According to various media reports, radioactive material from Japan has also turned up in Canada, South Korea, China and Germany.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the highest levels of Japan radiation detected in the U.S. have been reported in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. According to the agency, the radioactive iodine 131 detected there on March 19 and 20 measured 2.8 picocuries per cubic liter of air. Dutch Harbor also reported the highest levels of cesium-137, more than three times any other reporting station in the country and twice the level of the next highest station, in Guam. Dutch Harbor’s reading of tellurium-132, though still small, was more than 100 times higher than any place else that reported.
Dutch Harbor, located 2,700 miles from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, is one of Alaska’s most important fishing ports.
Radiation has also turned up throughout the U.S., from California to Vermont, South Carolina to Massachusetts. We reported earlier this week that Japan radiation had been detected in rainwater in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Experts continue to maintain that the levels of radiation being reported in the U.S. are far below levels considered hazardous.
In Japan itself, the highest levels of radiation have been detected in seawater just outside Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which was severely damaged in a massive earthquake and tsunami earlier this month. Japanese officials said the seawater contains 3,335 times the normal amount of radioactive iodine, according to the Associated Press. Highly dangerous plutonium was found in soil near the reactors, and higher than normal levels of radiation have been found in vegetables, milk and tap water.
The Japanese government is considering trying a risky and never-before attempted method to contain the radiation – draping special tarps over three of the plant’s reactors. However, there is a chance that this would allow more pressure to build up inside the reactors.
The Japanese nuclear crisis has also sparked concerns about nuclear safety in the U.S. According to a CNN report, Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, wants the federal government to distribute potassium iodide pills to Americans living within a 20-mile radius of a nuclear reactor. Such pills can be used to block the thyroid gland’s absorption of radioactive iodine.
“Despite more than 30 years of clear and unequivocal evidence that potassium iodide protects people, especially young children, who are most vulnerable, from cancer-causing releases of radioactive iodine that would occur if a nuclear disaster occurred, the nuclear industry has continued to fight its use,” Markey said at a press conference.
Markey is the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee and a former chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment.
According to CNN, Markey also said he plans to introduce legislation to overhaul nuclear safety. The bill imposes a moratorium on new reactor licenses until “new safety requirements are in place, and would require reactors to have backup power supplies and systems that can withstand “earthquakes, tsunamis, strong storms and long power outages.”