High radiation levels found on Tokyo street scare residents
REPORTING FROM SEOUL -- Alarmed Japanese officials Thursday located a radiation hot spot in Tokyo caused by old bottles stored in the basement of an empty house. The radiation levels had prompted concerns that the discovery may have been related to a tsunami-triggered nuclear meltdown this year at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The extraordinarily high levels of radiation were detected in one spot in a central Tokyo residential district, leading police to cordon off the small area. The radiation levels were higher in Tokyo's Setagaya ward than in the evacuation area around the Fukushima plant, which was damaged in a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
"We are shocked to see such high radiation level was detected in our neighborhood. We cannot leave it as is," an official told reporters.
Since the meltdown at the Fukushima plant, located about 150 miles northeast of Tokyo, officials have indefinitely evacuated nearly 100,000 local residents.
But Tokyo residents are also uneasy as they monitor levels of radiation in the water, air and native-grown foods. This latest radiation discovery stoked concerns that lie just beneath the surface in Tokyo that Japan’s capital city is a perilous place to live.
The Tokyo scare comes a day after officials in Yokohama, Japan's second-largest city, investigated soil samples after a radioactive substance was found in sediment atop an apartment building, according to news reports.
Officials said Tokyo police found "glass bottles in a cardboard box" in the basement of a house in the neighborhood that sent radiation detector readings off the charts, Japanese news reports said.
Officials say there are no immediate health hazards. Radiation levels just a few feet from the contaminated spot in Tokyo are normal, officials said.
-- John M. Glionna
Photo: A no-entry zone was set up on a sidewalk Oct. 13, 2011, in Tokyo's Setagaya district after high radiation levels were discovered. Credit: Kyodo News / Associated Press