Japanese PM: We're on 'Maximum Alert'

But experts say fear over plutonium in soil may be overblown
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2011 9:28 AM CDT
Japanese PM: We're on 'Maximum Alert'
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan reacts during the Upper House Budget Committee in Tokyo Tuesday, March 29, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

(Newser) – With fears escalating over the plutonium leaking into the soil around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japanese officials sounded a cautious note today, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan telling lawmakers that the government would “tackle the problem while in a state of maximum alert,” according to the Economic Times. “The situation is very grave,” the chief cabinet secretary told the AP. But he added that the plutonium levels didn’t pose an immediate risk.

Indeed, the plutonium in the soil may not be the dire portent it seems. It does indicate that there was at least a partial meltdown in a reactor’s core. But “this was already believed to be the case and does not necessarily mean that the situation is worse than thought or deteriorating,” one physics professor tells the Christian Science Monitor. “The levels reported are quite low and do not pose an immediate health risk.” (Read more Japan earthquake stories.)

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