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Japan says plant clean-up will take decades
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 9, 2011

Japan's prime minister said on Saturday the decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant would take decades, in the first government announcement of a long-term timeframe for the clean-up.

A monster tsunami crippled cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11 earthquake, with three reactors suffering meltdowns, triggering the world's worst nuclear emergency in a generation.

"Many people have been forced to evacuate," Naoto Kan said during a meeting of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

"It is expected to take three, five, or 10 years for controlling it, and even several decades until the accident settles finally."

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission and Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co have set a provisional goal of starting the removal of melted nuclear fuel at about 2021, public broadcaster NHK said.

The station reported that the authorities, the operator and equipment manufacturers also expect "several decades" to pass before the reactors are ready to be dismantled, citing a long-term roadmap for bringing the plant under control.

Japan has unveiled a short-term emergency plan to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which has emitted high levels of radiation after its cooling systems were knocked out.

But the government had not until Saturday presented an estimate of how long it will take before the crisis can be brought to an end.

The blueprint obtained by NHK was mapped out by studying how the United States handled the 1979 Three Mile nuclear accident, the broadcaster said.

TEPCO expects to reduce radiation leaks by July and bring its reactors to a stable cold shutdown by January at the latest.

Goshi Hosono, newly appointed state minister in charge of handling the nuclear accident, has told Jiji Press that the government will announce a revised roadmap and a longer-term vision for the accident on July 19.

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High levels of caesium found in Fukushima beef
Tokyo (AFP) July 9, 2011 - More than six times the legal limit of radioactive caesium has been found in beef from Fukushima prefecture, home to Japan's crippled nuclear plant, an official statement said Saturday.

The meat came from one of 11 cows shipped this month to Tokyo from a farmer in Minamisoma city, according to the statement by the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The 11 cows all showed high levels of radioactive caesium, ranging from 1,530 to 3,200 becquerel per kilogram, compared with the legal limit of 500 becquerel, the Tokyo statement said.

It was the first time excessive levels of radioactive caesium have been found in meat, according to a Tokyo official.

"All the meat from the cows is kept in the laboratory and has not entered the market," a separate statement said.

But a Tokyo official said five cows from the same farmer in Minamisoma have already been sold into the Tokyo market on May 30 and June 30, with the metropolitan government trying to track them down.

Following the latest inspection results, the government of Fukushima prefecture immediately requested that the city of Minamisoma refrain from shipping cows and beef, a Fukushima official said.

Fukushima prefecture has checked radiation levels of the outer skin of all livestock shipped from areas near the troubled nuclear plant, and the 11 cows had cleared external inspections, Jiji Press said.

The city of Minamisoma lies on the outskirts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has leaked radioactive substances into the environment after the March 11 tsunami and earthquake crippled its cooling systems.

The 11 cows were raised and shipped by the farmer just outside of the 20-kilometre (12-mile) no-go zone around the plant, the statement said.

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Japan groups alarmed by radioactive soil
Tokyo (AFP) July 5, 2011
Soil radiation in a city 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Japan's stricken nuclear plant is above levels that prompted resettlement after the Chernobyl disaster, citizens' groups said Tuesday. The survey of four locations in Fukushima city, outside the nuclear evacuation zone, showed that all soil samples contained caesium exceeding Japan's legal limit of 10,000 becquerels per kilogram (4,500 p ... read more

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