Rescue workers exposed
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.