Toxic plutonium seeping from Japan's nuclear plant

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Associated Press

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 28 at 11:34 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Officials in Japan call the situation "very grave" after confirming that highly toxic plutonium is seeping from a damaged nuclear power plant.

Plutonium has been detected in small amounts at several spots outside the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in the earthquake-tsunami zone.

Safety officials say the amounts are not a risk to humans but support suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from damaged fuel rods.

A tsunami spawned by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake March 11 destroyed the power systems needed to cool the nuclear fuel rods in the complex, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Since then, three of the complex's six reactors are believed to have partially melted down, and emergency crews have grappled with everything from malfunctioning pumps to dangerous spikes in radiation.

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