The Japanese government has stopped the sale of all food from farms near the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear plant today, after abnormally high levels of radiation were found in milk and spinach. Japanese authorities said the contaminated food poses little risk. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned, “Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about eight days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks, there is a short-term risk to human health if radioactive iodine in food is absorbed into the human body.”
Meanwhile, crews came closer to restoring the electricity needed to power up failed cooling systems in nuclear reactors affected by the tsunami and earthquake at the Daiichi plant. Workers have been spraying seawater continuously to cool the plant down.
Airborne radiation levels around Japan “have shown no signs of spiking drastically” over the past few days, according to measurements by the nation’s education and science ministry. Most readings showed detectable but relatively small amounts of airborne radiation. However, “after a better assessment of what had happened,” Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency has raised its rating for the crisis’s severity in certain parts of the country from a Level 4 to a Level 5, putting it on par with the 1979 accident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant in the U.S.
Radiation found in food as workers scramble to curb nuclear crisis [CNN]
Japan Confirms High Radiation in Spinach and Milk Near Nuclear Plant [NYT]