There is fresh anxiety over radiation leaks at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant following the discovery of plutonium in the soil.
The plant’s operator, Tepco, says the level found is not harmful to humans but its presence could indicate a breach in the reactor’s containment mechanism.
The find has heaped further pressure on Japan’s beleaguered Prime Minister Naoto Kan who has been fiercely criticised by opposition MP over his handling of the disaster. The government’s says it will now discuss nationalising Tepco whose shares have tumbled sharply since the crisis.
As for Kan, he has apologised for flying over the atomic site a day after the quake, which media reports said had delayed operations to cool the reactors. His statement followed the discovery yesterday of highly radioactive water outside the plant for the first time, adding to concerns that the contamination could seep further into the environment.