Video: Workers dumping radioactive water into ocean

  1. Closed captioning of: Workers dumping radioactive water into ocean

    >>> updating the radiation situation in japan. despite the announcement over the weekend of new trace amounts of radiation being found in several locations in this country, public health experts continue to assure us it's within healthy norms in japan there at the plant workers are dumping storage tanks full of radioactive water directly into the pacific ocean in order to make room for even more highly radioactive water leaking from a crack in a maintenance pit as the photos show. they don't know why all that water is leaking and various fixes like filling the cracked pit with concrete have not worked. now the plant's owner is dumping more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water right into the sea where the experts tell us it will dissipate.

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updated 4/4/2011 7:54:53 PM ET 2011-04-04T23:54:53

Releases of radioactive water into the ocean near Japan's stricken nuclear complex shouldn't pose a widespread danger to sea animals or people who might eat them, experts say.

That's basically because of dilution.

"It's a very large ocean," noted William Burnett of Florida State University.

Very close to the nuclear plant — less than half a mile or so — sea creatures might be in danger of problems like genetic mutations if the dumping goes on a long time, he said. But there shouldn't be any serious hazard farther away "unless this escalates into something much, much larger than it has so far," he said.

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Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts said readings for radioactive iodine and cesium show a thousandfold drop from the shore to monitors about 19 miles offshore.

He said radioactive doses in seafood may turn out to be detectable but probably won't be a significant health hazard. They'd probably be less of a concern than what people could get from land-based sources such as drinking water or eating produce, he said.

No fishing is allowed in the vicinity of the complex.

Radioactive water has been seeping into the Pacific Ocean from the nuclear plant, and on Monday plant operators began releasing more than 3 million gallons of tainted water to make room at a storage site for water that's even more radioactive.

Igor Linkov, an adjunct professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, also said he did not expect any major impact on ocean wildlife or people who eat seafood.

He agreed that animals near the plant may be affected. It's not clear in what way, because the level of radiation isn't well known, he said. In any case, fish would probably escape such an effect because unlike immobile species such as oysters, they move around and so would not get a continuous exposure, he said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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