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Japan starts thyroid tests for Fukushima children
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 9, 2011

Japan's Fukushima prefecture on Sunday began health check-ups of 360,000 children amid worries that radiation from a crippled nuclear plant had exposed them to the risk of thyroid abnormalities.

Many parents demanded the tests, drawing parallels with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, after which locals reported thyroid disorders, a problem sometimes associated with radiation exposure.

The screenings began after a recent unofficial survey reported that 10 out of 130 children evacuated from Fukushima had hormonal and other irregularities in the thyroid glands.

The doctors who conducted the survey, however, added that they could not establish a link between the irregularities and the nuclear accident.

Officials said they will test some 360,000 children under the age of 18, and will provide follow up tests during their lifetimes.

The March 11 earthquake triggered a tsunami that tore into Japan's northeast coast, leaving 20,000 people dead or missing, while sparking meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It was the world's worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster.

Radiation fears are a daily fact of life with reported cases of contaminated water, beef, vegetables, tea and seafood due to the Fukushima crisis.

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Quake hits Japan nuclear crisis zone, but plant stable
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 10, 2011 - A 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit Japan's Fukushima area on Monday, but a nuclear plant there that was crippled by a huge quake and tsunami in March remained stable, officials said.

The offshore quake struck at 11:45 am (0245 GMT) beneath the Pacific off Fukushima prefecture in the country's north, at a depth of 30.2 kilometres (18.8 miles), the US Geological Survey said.

A tsunami was not expected, said the Japan Meteorological Agency, while there were no reports of damage.

Nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant remained stable.

"We are not seeing any new abnormality" at the facility, where work is ongoing to bring reactors to a cold shutdown by the end of this year, a TEPCO spokesman said.

Skyscrapers in Tokyo, some 245 kilometers (152 miles) away, were slightly rocked by the tremor.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 triggered a monster tsunami which killed some 20,000 people and crippled the cooling systems at Fukushima, causing meltdowns in some of its reactors.

Radiation leaked into the air, soil and sea around the plant, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Hundreds of powerful aftershocks have shaken the region since the March quake.


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Nuclear contamination found beyond Japan no-go zone
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 5, 2011
High levels of radioactive contamination have been found in soil in the capital of Japan's Fukushima prefecture, a study showed Wednesday, prompting calls to make the area a voluntary evacuation zone. Some 307,000 becquerels of caesium per kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of soil was detected in an independent survey conducted on September 14 by a radiological engineering expert and citizens' groups. ... read more

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