Thousands are rushing to pop iodide pills for fear of the radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after last week's catastrophic earthquake and resulting tsunami damaged cooling systems in the reactors. The word on the street is that folks on the West Coast are simply panicking. But are they? When the BBC reports that the Japanese emperor Akihito made a rare appearance to say he is "deeply worried" about the situation, perhaps things are a bit more dire than we're led to believe. Below is an excerpt from Reuters.
Workers briefly abandon Japan nuclear plant as crisis worsens
By Shinichi Saoshiro and Chisa Fujioka
TOKYO | Reuters--Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:38am EDT
"High radiation levels prevented a helicopter from flying to the site to drop water into the No. 3 reactor -- whose roof was damaged by an earlier explosion and where steam was seen rising earlier in the day -- to try to cool its fuel rods.
The plant operator described No. 3 as the "priority." No more information was available, but that reactor is the only one at Daiichi which uses plutonium in its fuel mix.
According to U.S. government research, plutonium is very toxic to humans and once absorbed in the bloodstream can linger for years in bone marrow or liver and can lead to cancer..."
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Image courtesy of Greenpeace.org.