"TOKYO (Reuters) - Plutonium found in soil at the Fukushima nuclear complex heightened alarm on Tuesday over Japan's battle to contain the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years, as pressure mounted on the prime minister to widen an evacuation zone around the plant."
"In the latest blow to hopes authorities were gradually getting the plant under control, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said plutonium was found at low-risk levels in soil samples at the facility.
A by-product of atomic reactions and also used in nuclear bombs, plutonium is highly carcinogenic and one of the most dangerous substances on the planet, experts say.
They believe some of the plutonium may have come from spent fuel rods at Fukushima or damage to reactor No. 3, the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix.
Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said while the plutonium levels were not harmful to human health, the discovery could mean the reactor's containment mechanism had been breached.
"Plutonium is a substance that's emitted when the temperature is high, and it's also heavy and so does not leak out easily," agency deputy director Hidehiko Nishiyama told a news conference.
"So if plutonium has emerged from the reactor, that tells us something about the damage to the fuel. And if it has breached the original containment system, it underlines the gravity and seriousness of this accident.""
Reuters/Talking Points Memo: "Japan finds plutonium in soil at stricken nuclear plant"
More of that nuclear safety in action...
Because remember - disasters only happen one at a time - it's inconceivable that an earthquake and a tsunami would happen at the same time... good thing there was no typhoon to go with it...
And the nuclear industry says that everything is still safe because no-one could have predicted this would have ever happened - therefore all the other plants are safe - because they are supposed to be safe from all other known disaster possibilities (of course the fact that over 40 plants in the U.S. haven't even met regulations published in 1975 related to fire safety after an earthquake might make a person sceptical [but i'll publish that one in a little while]).
I'm especially thrilled with all the charts that circulated in the days after this disaster showing that more people through history have died from coal fired power plants than nuclear accidents. I think it misses the point. Even if people have died from coal related issues - we won't be glowing green and growing a third eye for 50,000 years after the dust hits the ground.
The story cited above also says "Beyond the evacuation zone, traces of radiation have been found in tap water in Tokyo and as far away as Iceland."
Of course coal and hydrocarbons will have quite an interesting long term effect what with the climate of the entire planet being altered courtesy of emissions...