Did radioactive iodine in Florida's atmosphere originate at troubled Japan nuclear plant?

03/28/11 wire reports including AP
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Power company officials say plutonium has been detected in the soil outside of the stricken Japanese nuclear complex.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says in a statement that the plutonium was discovered today in five locations around the plant, which has been leaking radiation for nearly two weeks. They say the amounts were very small and were not a risk to public health. But the U.S. EPA says “internal exposure to plutonium is an extremely serious health hazard.”

New readings show contamination in the ocean from radioactive water at the plant has spread about a mile farther north of the nuclear site than before.

This is Yukiya Amano, the head of International Atomic Energy Agency, through a translator in a news conference:

"Owing to the heroic efforts by Fukushima emergency workers some progress has been made. There are mixed signals and it is far from being able to relax."

Meanwhile, low levels of radioactive iodine-131 have been found in the atmosphere in three states, including Florida. Reuters reports that monitors at nuclear plants in South Carolina, North Carolina, and in Crystal River, Florida picked up radioactive iodine in the air.

Reuters also reports that trace amounts of radioactive iodine have turned up in rainwater samples in Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

Nuclear experts and health officials say there's no public health risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says people are exposed to much more radiation on an international airline flight.

In the wake of the Japan disaster, the U.N. nuclear chief, Amano, says he is convening a high-level conference to examine safety procedures at nuclear plants around the world.

"I've proposed that a high level high media conference on nuclear safety should take place here in Vienna before this summer considering lessons that need to be learned and launching the process of strengthening nuclear safety and strengthening the response to a nuclear accident and emergencies."

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the nuclear accident at Three-mile Island. This is audio of President Jimmy Carter at the time.

Previous WMNF news coverage of the Japan earthquake

EPA on plutonium

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