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Power Restored at Nuclear Plant; Food Concerns Grow
March 21, 2011

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Nuclear power, its generation, and its radiation continued to be the focus of discussions and events in Japan, as power was restored at a troubled nuclear plant and concerns grew over contaminated food. Concern was evident as well for the mounting death toll and the many thousands of people still to be found.

Tokyo Electric Power Company announced that it had succeeded in connecting six new power lines to the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and that a water pump had been restarted, meaning that water could be distributed to cool nuclear fuel rods that were still at risk of overheating. The nuclear plant had been the scene of dramatic action in recent days, culminating in the frantic work to restore power and the bathing of the fuel rods from helicopters hovering ahead.

Concerns grew over radiation in food and water, as officials urged citizens living in a large corridor surrounding the Fukushima plant to take care when examining tap water and food. Health officials instructed people in one city to refrain from drinking tap water altogether. Reports from coastal areas were of radiation being found in offshore waters, likely as residue from the helicopter dumpings.

Shipments of spinach, milk, and some vegetables have been stopped from leaving the area, and residents of large cities like Tokyo were carefully inquiring where imported food had come from before buying.

Health officials from Japan and from international groups such as the World Health Organization were striving to maintain calm, saying that even though levels of radioactive materials were higher than normal, they were nowhere near harmful levels. Police jailed one man for 10 days for spreading rumors that water was contaminated.

All the same, many residents of Tokyo were wearing face masks in public places. And, officials representing China and South Korea announced enhanced inspections of food originating in Japan.

The death toll stood at 8,805. The number of missing was 12,654. The number of homeless was more than 450,000. The damage estimate exceeded $250 billion.



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