In a nuclear crisis that is becoming increasingly serious, Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency confirmed that radioactive iodine-131 in seawater samples taken near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex that was seriously damaged by the recent tsunami off the coast of Japan is 4,385 times the level permitted by law.
Airborne radiation near the plant has been measured at 4-times government limits.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company that operates the crippled plant, has begun releasing more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water that was used to cool the fuel rods into the ocean while it attempts to find the source of radioactive leaks. The water being released is about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits.
Meanwhile, water that is vastly more radioactive continues to gush into the ocean through a large crack in a six-foot deep pit at the nuclear plant. Over the weekend, workers at the plant used sawdust, shredded newspaper and diaper chemicals in a desperate attempt to plug the area, which failed. Water leaking from the pit is about 10,000 times more radioactive than water normally found at a nuclear plant
Thus, radiation from a meltdown in the reactor core of reactor No. 2 is leaking out into the water and soil, with other reactors continuing to experience problems.
Groundwater near the nuclear plant contains radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold.
Yet scientists and activists question these government and nuclear industry "safe" limits of radiation exposure.
"The U.S. Department of Energy has testified that there is no level of radiation that is so low that it is without health risks," Jacqueline Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, told Al Jazeera.
Her foundation monitors and analyzes U.S. nuclear weapons programs and policies and related high technology energy, with a focus on the national nuclear weapons laboratories.