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Fatal Radiation Detected Outside Damaged Japanese Reactor – Bloomberg

Radiation levels that can prove fatal were detected outside reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant for the first time, complicating efforts to contain the worst disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Water in an underground trench outside the No. 2 reactor had levels exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told reporters in the capital yesterday. Exposure to that dose for 30 minutes would trigger nausea and four hours might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Preventing the most-contaminated water from leaking into the ground or air is key to containing the spread of radiation beyond the plant. A partial meltdown of fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor probably caused a jump in the readings, Japan’s chief government spokesman said.

“There’s not much good news right now,” said Gennady Pshakin, a former IAEA official based in Obninsk, the site of Russia’s first nuclear power plant. “There’re questions arising on how much fuel will leak out, what isotopes will be carried and how quickly they will settle. It’s becoming less predictable.”

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