Radiation levels in Japan remain safe: IAEA

Posted at 03/21/2011 8:39 PM | Updated as of 03/21/2011 8:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that radiation levels in major Japanese cities have not significantly changed since Saturday, March 19 and remain safe.

The IAEA made the announcement in a briefing for the diplomatic missions in Vienna on March 20.

The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, which has been monitoring radioactive levels of foodstuffs, also reported to the IAEA and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that results from the Kawamata sampling showed the presence of Iodine-131 in milk and in freshly grown leafy vegetables, such as spinach and spring onions, that is significantly above the levels set by Japan for restricting consumption of these food products.

These products have effectively been banned from the market.

Japanese authorities are conducting similar tests on other products. 

The overall situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility remains very serious, although there has been some progress in Units 5 and 6.

These units were placed in cold shutdown and safe mode, with their cooling systems stable and under control, and with the temperature having fallen significantly to around 40 degrees centigrade. Two diesel generators are providing electricity.   
 
Officials are continuing efforts to restore electrical power to the site and injecting seawater into Units 1, 2 and 3. Efforts to connect power from the substation to the reactor building are ongoing despite the difficult condition.
 
Unit 3 continues to emit white smoke or vapor and is being observed, but the activity is less intense than on previous days.
 
The situation in the reactor spent fuel pools is relatively stable, but is still of concern. Spraying of water into the pool of Unit 4 started Saturday, March 19.
 
The IAEA is still seeking data on water levels and temperatures at the spent fuel pools at Units 1, 2, 3 and 4.
 
The fuel assemblies in the Common Use Spent Fuel Pool—where spent fuel is stored after cooling at least 18 months in the reactor buildings—are fully covered with water and are in stable cool temperature at 57 degrees centigrade.