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Radiation In Water Complicating Japan Nuclear Crisis

An aerial view shows smoke rising from the ruined roof of the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Work to stabilize Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant is being hampered by the presence of radiation in water at the earthquake- and tsunami-damaged plant.

Officials say radioactive water has now been found in buildings at three of the six reactors at the complex, located 240 kilometers north of Tokyo. They say that radioactivity in seawater near the plant has tested 1,250 times normal limits.

It is not yet clear what has caused the radioactive water. A crack in the reactor's containment shell, leaky pipes, or venting operations to release pressure are being investigated as possible sources.

Officials on March 25 said workers who suffered burns while trying to cool the crippled No. 3 reactor were exposed to radiation levels in water that were 10,000 times higher than normally found at the reactor.

At least 17 workers have now been exposed to elevated levels of radiation since the March 11 magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami disaster stands at more than 10,000, with more than 17,000 still listed as missing.

compiled from agency reports