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Concerns grow in S. Korea over radioactive contamination from Japan
Publication Date : 24-08-2013
South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has called on the government to take measures to address Koreans’ growing anxiety over a series of leaks of highly radioactive water from the crippled nuclear reactor in Japan.
Concerns are growing here after the operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant confirmed fresh leaks in addition to its announcement of a leak of 300 tonnes of contaminated water earlier this week.
In an emergency meeting with related ministers on Thursday Chung directed the government to enhance monitoring of water and imported fish and disclose test results every two weeks.
“The foreign ministry should fully analyse the situation with data from Japan, while the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission measures contamination levels of the coast seawater, rainwater and air,” Chung was quoted as saying during the meeting.
Agricultural, environment and maritime affairs and food safety ministers attended the meeting.
The government of Busan, the nation’s largest port city, only 662 miles away from Fukushima, said it will intensify the quarantine of agricultural and fisheries products in cooperation with concerned government agencies and organisations.
Japan on Tuesday raised the threat level of the 300-tonne leak at the nuclear plant from 1 to 3 on a 7-point scale.
The plant has been accumulating radioactive water since March 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the region and badly damaged three of its reactors.
A puddle of the contaminated water near the three ruined tanks was emitting 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation, according local news reports.
Korean activists called for the government to disclose all information and take more drastic steps including an import ban.
“The government is still approaching the problem as a measure just to get rid of wild rumors online,” said Ahn Jae-hun, coordinator of energy and climate change from the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, one of the non-government organisations taking the lead in fighting against the issue.
Rumors about contamination and photos of mutant organisms allegedly affected by Japan’s radioactive materials have been fast spreading on Korean portal websites and social network services.
“Authorities say they will ease the public fears, but those fears have actually grown by the government not taking concrete actions to the problem. What people need right now is what the government will do after it finds something from the test results,“ he noted.
Ahn explained that Korea should no longer be passive about the issue but strongly request the Japanese government’s cooperation and ban all import products that have been affected.