WIDEN, Evac Zone: Greenpeace — Minute amounts of radioactive strontium have been detected in soil at 11 locations in Fukushima Prefecture, including the city of Fukushima 62 km from the crippled nuclear power plant, according to the science ministry.
Strontium tends to accumulate in bones and is believed to cause bone cancer and leukemia.
The Nuclear Safety Commission said they are unlikely to pose an immediate threat to human health but warned people about the intake of radioactive strontium into their bodies.
According to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, 54 becquerels of strontium-89 per kg were detected in soil collected in the city of Fukushima on April 27.
The highest amount, 1,500 becquerels of strontium per kg, was detected in soil collected May 6 in the town of Namie, 24 km northwest of the nuclear plant.
The ministry also detected 1,000 becquerels of strontium per kg in the village of Iitate, 220 becquerels in the town of Kawamata and 30 becquerels in the town of Hirono.
The commission said it will investigate to see if the strontium has been released into the air from the soil.
The ministry was investigating samples of soil collected in the prefecture from March 21 through May 6.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to begin testing Friday a newly installed radioactive water treatment system at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Thursday.
The massive amount of contaminated water that has accumulated in reactor facilities has hampered efforts to bring the crisis under control.
The roughly weeklong trial run will precede a planned full operation of the system from mid-June to remove highly radioactive materials from the water to eventually recycle it for cooling the crippled reactors.
NISA said it was evaluating Tepco’s plan and that it hoped to approve the move by the end of the day.
With highly radioactive water expected to continue leaking from the damaged reactors, launching the decontamination process has been an urgent task.
During the trial run, low-level radioactive water that has been kept in a tank at the complex will be sent into the new installation to see if it can remove radioactive cesium and other contaminants from the water, lower its radiation levels and desalinate it.
Tepco wants to process roughly 250,000 tons of highly radioactive water at the new facility by the end of next March.
It also began testing seawater treatment equipment in the sea near the plant Thursday for removing leaked radioactive cesium, with plans to begin full operations after monitoring the trial run for two to three days.
To help slow the spread into the Pacific Ocean of the highly tainted water that leaked from around seawater intakes for the No. 2 and 3 reactors, Tepco has so far installed fences around the intakes.