Radiation in Tokyo water too much for infants

03/23/11 wire reports including AP
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Japan's police agency says more than 9,500 people are dead after an earthquake and tsunami, and 16,000 are missing, although those tallies are likely to overlap.

The country’s government says the economic costs of the catastrophic March 11th earthquake and tsunami could reach $309 billion.

Tokyo's utility company says black smoke has been seen emerging from Unit 3 of the crippled nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, prompting a new evacuation of the complex. Workers have been temporarily evacuated from the entire Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Operators of the power station have been desperately trying to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools at the plant after it was damaged by this month's tsunami, which knocked out power to the cooling systems.

Tokyo Water Bureau officials say the level of radioactive iodine in some city tap water is two times the recommended limit for infants. They said the water is not an immediate health risk for adults.

Tokyo resident Ayumi Sakamoto says she's stocking up with bottled water.

"I'll probably put aside some water now so that, now that radiation is going to be most likely increasing, rather than decreasing, we may need to put some water away with the assumption that today's water is probably better than two days from now. But, other than that, you just do what you can. I think the situation is different for pregnant women and for infants but the truth is, you know, you have to do the best you can. If you have the means to go further out, perhaps you should if you are pregnant it's probably more important."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will halt imports of dairy products and produce from the area of Japan where the nuclear reactor is leaking radiation. Other foods imported from Japan, including seafood, will still be sold to the public but screened first for radiation.

Experts say minuscule amounts of fallout from the nuclear plant have reached Iceland and are expected in France, but don't pose health risks.

Previous WMNF news stories on Japan

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