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Radioactive contamination

Videographic on radioactive contamination. The removal of nuclear debris from Japan's crippled Fukushima power plant will be delayed by about a year, because the pandemic has set back development of specialised equipment, the plant's operator said Thursday. VIDEOGRAPHIC

Video Transcript

- Radioactive contamination may be the result of direct exposure to radioactive substances on the ground, on plants, or in water, or through contact with contaminated meat or fish. Vegetables with large leaves like spinach, salad, or leeks are highly sensitive to radioactive fallout. Those growing underground, like onions or carrots, are less exposed, but the soil's contamination will eventually affect them.

Radioactive elements can work their way down to groundwater and pollute drinking water. A nuclear incident may cause particles to be released into the ocean. In several instances, authorities have been forced to ban fishing in the face of a possible risk of marine life contamination.

Many radioactive elements have a very slow decay rate. It takes 30 years to half the radioactivity of caesium 137, an isotope used in nuclear plants; upwards of 300 years to cut it by a thousand.