Japan mourns victims, still battling quake-triggered nuke crisis (4)

08:48, July 12, 2011      

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High levels of radioactive cesium have also been detected in incinerated ashes at waste disposal facilities in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture and have been attributed to the fallout from the Fukushima crisis, prefectural officials said Monday.

According to one city office in Kashiwa, up to 70,800 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram were detected from ashes collected on June 24 and a reading of more than 60,000 becquerels was observed from ashes collected on July 1 and 2, according to authorities at the office.

Radioactive cesium of up to 48,900 becquerels were also detected at a facility for burying the ashes from waste disposal centers in the city, the authorities said, adding that a maximum of 9,780 becquerels was also registered at another facility in the region.

The figures far exceed the 8,000-becquerel per kilogram limit set by the government for waste disposal facilities to temporarily store such ashes and is a sign that Japan's nuclear crisis is far from over.

The full dismantling of the crisis-hit plant, located 220-km northeast of Tokyo, including removing all the nuclear fuel and breaking down reactors and their housing structures is expected to take several decades, sources with knowledge of the matter said Sunday.

The magnitude-9.0 mega-quake struck at 2:46 p.m. on March 11 off the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan.

The jolt triggered a massive tsunami that ravaged everything in its path inland as far as 10-kilometers and 14-meter high waves were recorded as breaching the defensive walls of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, knocking out its vital cooling and backup systems and leading reactors to meltdown.

The ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis is the world's worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl cataclysm which occurred on April 26, 1986.

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