Res­cue work­ers ex­posed

Townsville Bulletin - - News - Ja­pan lat­est: page 21

TWO Aus­tralian search-an­dres­cue work­ers have been ex­posed to low lev­els of ra­di­a­tion from the Ja­panese nu­clear power plant dam­aged in Fri­day’s 9.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake.

P r i m e M i n i s t e r J u l i a Gil­lard said ra­di­a­tion was de­tected on the boots of the two work­ers who stopped at Fukushima air­port, about 40km from the plant.

The two work­ers were part of a multi-nation group, which in­cluded an­other two Aus­tralians along with New Zealan­ders, fly­ing aboard an Amer­i­can he­li­copter.

‘‘ The he­li­copter needed to land . . . be­cause of is­sues about i ce on t he ro­tary blade,’’ Ms Gil­lard said.

Cold weather, in­clud­ing snow, moved across Ja­pan yes­ter­day.

All mem­bers of the team had re­turned to their base, more than 100km from Fukushima.

Authorities are con­sid­er­ing spray­ing wa­ter and boric acid over the plant in a bid to con­tain leak­ing ra­di­a­tion.

J a p a n ’ s n u c l e a r s a f e t y agency said the plant’s op­er­a­tor, Tokyo Elec­tric Power Com­pany, pro­posed the mea­sures af­ter ex­plo­sions and fires at the plant.

The lat­est fire broke out at a re­ac­tor yes­ter­day, a day af­ter the power plant emit­ted a burst of ra­di­a­tion that pan­icked an al­ready edgy Ja­pan.

There are still about 144 Aus­tralians un­ac­counted for in the af­fected re­gion and the Prime Min­is­ter yes­ter­day moved to re­as­sure the nation about the risk of nu­clear con­tam­i­na­tion.

The In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency had ad­vised Ms Gil­lard that health risks from ex­po­sure to the ra­di­a­tion were low to neg­li­gi­ble.

‘‘ Our nu­clear ex­perts ad­vise there is a small chance of con­tam­i­na­tion at very low lev­els for Aus­tralians who were i n t he Fukushima area,’’ she said.

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