Radioactive water leaks from crippled Japan plant
The crack was apparently caused by the quake and may have been leaking since then, said spokesman Osamu Yokokura of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the plant.
Measurements showed the air above the radioactive water in the pit contained more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour of radioactivity. Even just two feet (60 centimetres) away, that figure dropped to 400 millisieverts. Workers have taken samples of the water in the pit and seawater and are analysing them to determine the level of contamination.
Radiation quickly disperses in both air and water, and experts have said that it would be quickly diluted by the vast Pacific Ocean, where even large amounts have little effect. TEPCO is trying to pour concrete to seal the 8-inch-long (20-centimeter-long) crack, spokesman Takashi Kurita said.
''This could be one of the sources of seawater contamination,'' Nishiyama said. ``There could be other similar cracks in the area, and we must find them as quickly as possible.''
Radioactive iodine-131 at concentrations higher than the legal limit was first detected in waters off the plant more than a week ago. New readings released Monday showed the contamination was spreading.
It wasn't immediately clear whether workers who have been rushing to bring the reactors under control were exposed. People living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the plant have been evacuated, and no fishing is taking place in the waters just off the plant.
Because of the evacuations, the plant workers have been the primary people exposed to the radiation leaks. One crew member described difficult conditions inside the complex in an interview published Saturday.
The plant has run out of the nylon protective booties that workers put over their shoes. Earlier, TEPCO acknowledged that the tsunami had destroyed many of the gauges used to measure radiation, forcing workers to share. More gauges have since arrived at the site.
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