China remains safe as Japan crisis deepens

08:37, March 28, 2011      

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Chinese cooks offer Chinese food to quake sufferers at a budokan hall in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on March 26, 2011. Four Chinese food restaurants offered cooked Chinese food such as fried rice, chow mein, vegetable porridge and stir-fried bean curd in hot sauce to quake sufferers mainly from Fukushima prefecture, Miyagi prefecture and Iwate prefecture at the budokan hall, in which about 320 quake sufferers are temporarily settled, on Saturday. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

Beijing, Shanghai and other cities in China's eastern coast haven't found any traces of radioactive pollutants in the air, despite the northeastern province of Heilongjiang has been affected by very tiny amount of iodine-131 spilled over from Japan.

However, the tiny amounts won't pose any harm to people's health, Chinese experts say.

Meanwhile, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Corp conceded Monday that it faces a protracted and uncertain fight to contain overheating nuclear fuel rods and avert a meltdown.

"Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over)," TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.

China's two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, are in no danger of fallout from the earthquake and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, about 240 kilometers north of Tokyo.

Chinese air and water samplers, who have kept hourly examinations since the crisis broke out at the plant, said that there were no changes in air and water qualities, local officials and state press reported.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said the nuclear leakage unfolding at the stricken Fukushima plant would continue to have no effect on China's east coastal cities in the coming three days, according to the results of air monitoring in 42 coastal cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xiamen and Guangzhou.

According to the statistics provided by the environment ministry, the amounts detected in the air, a common index measuring radioactive levels, remained all in the normal range, so residents living in China should feel safe about what they inhale now.

"We are monitoring the radioactive pollutants in the air every hour each day and so far everything's fine and safe," said Chen Wei, an official with the Shanghai Environmental Bureau.

"We have kept updating our statistics to the environment ministry every day to make sure the public are aware of the latest situation," Chen added.

Shanghai is under a high-pressure weather system at the moment and should not be affected by radiation, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.

The small amount of iodine-131 detected in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, about 1,900 kilometers away from Tokyo, on Saturday and Sunday, were probably blown in by east winds caused by an area of low pressure, Zhang Ruiyi, chief service officer of the weather bureau, said.

"Shanghai is in a different circulation system, plus Heilongjiang is much closer to Fukushima than Shanghai," Zhang added.

The air streams affecting the city at present were mainly coming from the north and it was unlikely that any pollutants could travel to the city from about 2,000 kilometers away, Zhang said.

Meanwhile, Japan appeared to face a protracted combat to contain one of the world's most disastrous nuclear crisis in 25 years after high radiation levels complicated rescue work at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Engineers have been battling to control the six boiling-water atomic reactors since it was damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that also left more than 27,000 people dead or missing by Monday.

And, a magnitude 6.5 earth quake rocked the region early today, the latest in a series of aftershocks, and officials warned it would trigger a 50-cm tsunami wave.

Radiation at the nuclear plant has soared in recent days. Latest readings showed contamination 100,000 times normal in contaminated water at the Unit 2 reactor and up to 1,900 times normal in the nearby sea.

Those were the most alarming levels since the crisis began.

"I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we were led to believe," said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to stabilize the situation and the United Nations should step in and offer help.

By People's Daily Online
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