1 Apr 2011

High beef radiation level found

7:15 am on 1 April 2011

Japan has found radiation above the legal limit in beef from near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

The discovery is the first such finding in meat since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on 11 March triggered the crisis there.

The Kyodo news agency is reporting that the beef was from Tenei - about 70km from the plant.

The Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency says further checks are being carried out on beef from the region.

The Japanese government has already halted shipments of untreated milk and many vegetables from Fukushima and three neighbouring prefectures after radioactive substances were detected in samples.

Monitoring in another six prefectures, covering an area that borders Tokyo, has also been stepped up.

Reactor radiation level rising

The operators of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant say radiation in the water of an underground tunnel outside a turbine building of the number two reactor is more than 10,000 times above normal levels in reactors.

The Kyodo news agency reports that radiation has also been found in groundwater near a turbine building of the number one reactor.

An abnormal level of radioactive caesium has been found in beef from the area.

The source of the leak is unclear. The Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said:

Radioactive materials in the air could have come down to the earth's surface and could have seeped into the ground due to rainfall.

More than 70,000 people have been evacuated from a 20km ring around the plant.

Another 136,000 who live in a 10km band beyond that have been encouraged to leave or to stay indoors.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has called for clear international standards to be established on nuclear safety.

Mr Sarkozy, who is in Japan, has proposed a meeting of the G-20 countries to discuss the issue in May.

Exports say that decommissioning the four reactors worst-affected by the quake and tsunami on 11 March could take more than a decade and cost about $10-19 billion.