Radiation alert: US Navy crews contaminated

Radiation alert: US Navy crews contaminated
Monday, March 14, 2011 - 9:12am

SOMA, Japan — The U.S. Seventh Fleet moved its ships and aircraft away from a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear plant Monday after discovering low-level radioactive contamination on crews returning from relief missions.

The fleet said that the radiation was from a plume of smoke and steam released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where there have been two hydrogen explosions since Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Seventeen U.S. military personnel involved in helicopter relief missions were found to have been exposed to low levels of radiation upon returning to the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier about 100 miles offshore.

U.S. officials said the exposure level was roughly equal to one month's normal exposure to natural background radiation in the environment, and after scrubbing with soap and water, the 17 were declared contamination-free.

As a precaution, the 7th fleet said the USS Ronald Reagan and its other ships moved downwind from the nuclear site while the navy evaluated the situation.

Citing experts, The New York Times reported that radioactive steam could be released from the stricken plants for weeks or possibly months. Click here for more news on the aftermath of the Japanese tragedy

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