Radiation spikes in seawater by stricken Japan plant

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TOKYO – Radioactivity levels are soaring in seawater near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said on Saturday, two weeks after the nuclear power plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Even as engineers tried to pump puddles of radioactive water from the power plant 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, the nuclear safety agency said tests on Friday showed radioactive iodine had spiked 1,250 times higher than normal in the seawater just offshore the plant.
Officials said iodine 131 levels in seawater 30 km (19 miles) from the coastal nuclear complex were within acceptable limits established by regulations and the contamination posed little risk to aquatic life. “Ocean currents will disperse radiation particles and so it will be very diluted by the time it gets consumed by fish and seaweed,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a senior official from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Despite that reassurance, the disclosure may well heighten international concern over Japanese seafood exports. Several countries have already banned milk and produce from areas around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, while others have been monitoring Japanese seafood.