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Workers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant exposed to radiation above previous limit

Six workers at the nuclear power plant have been exposed to radiation beyond the previous limit for an emergency operation, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says. The power company says the workers have shown no symptoms from exposure.

March 19, 2011|By Abby Sewell | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Six workers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been exposed to radiation beyond the previous limit for an emergency operation, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday.

Kyodo News reported the employees, whose job titles were not known, were continuing to work despite having been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry raised the exposure limit to 250 millisieverts for the current nuclear crisis. The power company said the workers have shown no abnormal signs from exposure.

Photos: Unrelenting crisis grips Japan

Crews continue battling to restore power at the plant, which was crippled as a result of the magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck the country just more than a week ago. The hope is to limit the emission of radioactive material and avoid a full nuclear meltdown.

The nuclear crisis has been upgraded from four to five on a scale of one to seven, putting it on the same level as the 1979 Three Mile Island catastrophe in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, reports of radioactive material in the country's food and water supply continue to emerge. Officials said radioactive iodine levels above the government-recommended limit have been found in tap water in the Fukushima prefecture, the Associated Press reported. Small amounts of radioactive iodine have found their way into drinking water as far as Tokyo.

Food has also been affected. Excessive radiation was found Saturday in milk and spinach in the Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures. The health ministry said the levels were not harmful to humans, but is considering an order to end the sale of food products from the Fukushima prefecture.

The government also said rain could contain small amounts of radioactive substances in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. The office of the Prime Minister told citizens that the trace amounts would not pose a health threat, but cautioned them to avoid going outside and to wash clothes or skin exposed to rain.

Photos: Unrelenting crisis grips Japan

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