First the good news.
Workers reconnect all six reactors at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to the electrical grid Tuesday, but they are not ready to turn the power on yet. They were also able to cool a spent fuel pool that was nearly boiling, reducing the risk of releasing radioactive steam.
Now the news that there is still work to do.
Smoke and steam rose from two of the most threatening reactors at Japan’s quake-crippled nuclear plant on Tuesday, suggesting the battle to avert a disastrous meltdown and stop the spread of radiation was far from won. …
Kyodo news agency said steam appeared to rise from reactor No. 2 and white haze was detected above reactor No. 3. There have been several blasts of steam from the reactors during the crisis, which experts say probably released a small amount of radioactive particles.
Lastly some bad news.Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said later the smoke had turned to steam and it was deemed safe to continue work in bringing the plant under control. Japan’s nuclear safety agency said steam was believed to be coming off a spent nuclear fuel pool at reactor No.2.
TEPCO said radiation was found in the Pacific Ocean nearby, not surprising given rain and the hosing of reactors with sea-water. TEPCO officials have said some of the water from the hosing was spilling into the sea.
Radioactive iodine in the sea samples was 126.7 times the allowed limit, while caesium was 24.8 times over, the Kyodo news agency said. That still posed no immediate danger, TEPCO said.
"It would have to be drunk for a whole year in order to accumulate to 1 millisievert," a TEPCO official said, referring to the standard radiation measurement unit.
People are generally exposed to 1-10 millisieverts a year from background radiation caused by substances in the air and soil.
The Health Ministrysaid residents of five municipalities in Fukushima should not use tap water for baby powder milk after the water was found to have more than the standard level of radioactive iodine allowed for babies. Authorities have also stopped shipments of milk and some vegetables from the area.
Despite the warnings, experts say readings are much lower than around Chernobyl after the 1986 accident in Ukraine.
Japan is a net importer of food, but also exports fruit, vegetables, dairy products and seafood, with its biggest markets in Hong Kong, China and the United States.
As I said yesterday this is going to be one very long slog, however, things are moving in the right direction.Japan's neighbors including China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, are monitoring Japanese food imports. Australia's food regulator said the risk was negligible and no extra restrictions on Japanese food were in place.