China faces no immediate threat from leakage

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The radioactive leakage in the wake of the damaged reactors at a nuclear power plant in northern Japan following Friday's great quake poses no immediate threat to China, concluded experts with the Beijing-based Regional Specialized Meteorological Center with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Sunday.

As winds continue blowing eastward over Japan, the air at the mid- and lower-levels will carry radioactive pollutants to the northeast of Japan, while pollutants at the upper level will be blown southeastward in the next 60 hours and move northward after that, said Zhou Bin, senior engineer with the WMO's center in Beijing.

The Beijing center is among WMO's eight worldwide centers which predict the long-range movement of air-borne radioactivity. The system also provides notification and real-time information linkage between the Incident and Emergency Center of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and WMO.

China is located to the west of Japan, with the two countries being separated by the Korean Peninsula and the seas. Therefore, the radioactive substances released by the damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan's quake-stricken regions will have no impact on China over the next three days, Zhou said.

According to Zhou, the accident at the Japanese nuclear power plant has been assessed to be at the level four on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which runs from one to seven.

According to the IAEA's definition, a level-four nuclear accident is defined as having "local consequences," including a "minor release of radioactive material."

Chen Xiaoqiu, a researcher with the radioactive safety center of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, echoed Zhou by saying that judging from the current wind orientation, the radioactive material leaked from the damaged reactors at the Fukushima plant should not affect China.

"What we have monitored so far shows that no abnormal radiation has been detected in Chinese territory," said Chen, adding the public need not have to panic about the radioactivity.

Starting Tuesday, a cold front will bring rainy, snowy weather to Japan's quake-hit regions including Tokyo, Sendai and Fukushima, due to prevailing west winds, said Huang Xiaoyu, chief forecaster at the Central Meteorological Observatory.

"The harmful pollutants will drift further and further away from China," said Huang.

Cao Conghua, an expert with the State Oceanic Administration, said the radioactive substances would not spread to China's coastal waters, judging from the water currents in the Pacific Ocean.

As a precaution, however, Chinese oceanic authorities have sent ships and technicians to monitor potential radioactive substances in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea.

The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, along with the National Nuclear Safety Administration, have also asked environmental protection departments at different levels of the country to step up monitoring radioactive material in the environment and make a good evaluation of the impact from the leakage of the damaged reactors at the Japanese nuclear power plant.

A massive 8.6-magnitude earthquake jolted off the east coast of Japan's main Honshu Island at 1:46 p.m. Beijing Time Friday, triggering an array of secondary disasters including a tsunami and causing deaths and those missing in the thousands.

Japan's top government spokesman has warned that a radioactive meltdown may have occurred in two reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

A complete meltdown could release uranium and dangerous contaminants into the environment and pose major, widespread health risks, said experts.

Two radioactive substances, cesium and radioactive iodine, have been detected near the no.1 reactor of the Fukushima plant, where radiation rose to as high as 1,204 micro sievert, compared with the legal limit of 500, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator and owner of the Fukushima plants.

The Fukushima prefectural government said Sunday that 19 more people were found to have been exposed to radioactivity, in addition to three cases of exposure recorded Saturday.

China sent a rescue team to Japan on Sunday. The 15-member team took four tonnes of material and equipment for search and rescue, as well as emergency power supplies and telecommunication services.

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