A mother holds her baby

A few days ago our monitoring team on the ground in Japan found radiation levels high enough to require evacuation in several locations to the northwest of the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant, including Iitate village, 20km beyond the official evacuation zone.

Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that their measurements in Iitate village confirm our findings. From the New York Times:

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said radiation measured at the village of Iitate, 40 km (25 mile) from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, exceeded a criterion for evacuation.

Japan has ordered those within a 20 km radius from the plant to leave and is encouraging those living in a 20-30 km ring to do the same, and if they don't, to stay inside.

"We have advised (Japan) to carefully assess the situation and they have indicated that it is already under assessment," Denis Flory, a deputy director general of the IAEA, said.

Ocean contamination

Radiation levels thousands of times higher than the legal limit have been measured off shore from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. A likely theory is that water being pumped into the reactor cores is leaking out of the containment, and leaking into the sea via the turbine buildings. From the Asahi Shimbun:

The density of iodine-131 in seawater 330 meters south of an outlet at the quake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant shot up to 3,355 times the acceptable limit on Tuesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday.

It also said the density level 30 meters to the north of another outlet at the plant soared to 1,263 times.

While a heroic effort is being made to bring the crippled reactors at the plant under control, officials and experts are closely watching how leaking radioactive substances will contaminate the sea and affect marine life.

In the plant compound, highly radioactive water has been quickly filling up trenches outside the reactor buildings, fueling concerns that voluminous amounts of contaminated water may flow into the sea.

Word-wide rallies in support of Japan and a nuclear free future

People around the world continue to hold candlelit vigils and other rallies in solidarity with the people of Japan. On Tuesday, Japan's top government spokesman Yukio Edano said solar power, bioenergy and other clean sources will be key to the to Japan's energy future - something many people around the world who would like to happen in their own countries.

Above image: Refugees at Yonezawa Gymnasium in Japan. A mother holds her baby at Yonezawa gymnasium which is now providing a shelter for 504 people who either lost their homes by the Tsunami or live near Fukushima nuclear Power Station.