The Japanese government on Monday told people not to drink water from taps in villages near the quake-hit nuclear power plant after high levels of radioactive iodine was detected.
Abnormal, but much lower levels of radioactive iodine had already been found in the water supply in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures including Fukushima, where the troubled plant and the village of Iitatemura is located. The health ministry said 965 becquerels per kg of radioactive iodine was found in water sampled on Sunday in Iitatemura, which is 40 km from the Fukushima No 1 plant.
It is more than three times the level the government considers advising people to limit the intake of water. “There is no immediate effect on health if it is taken temporarily,” ministry official Shogo Misawa said of tap water in Iitatemura.
The prefecture of Fukushima is preparing to provide about 4,000 people in the village with bottled water, reports said.
However, the World Health Organisation said on Monday that radiation in food was more serious than previously thought.
“It’s a serious situation,” said Peter Cordingley, Manila-based spokesman for the World Health Organisation’s regional office for the Western Pacific.
However, he said there was no evidence of contaminated food reaching other countries.