Radiation in seawater at the shoreline off Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear power plant has measured several million times the legal limit over the past few days, though officials contended Tuesday that the contamination still does not pose an immediate danger.
Radiation has been pouring in to the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake spawned a massive tsunami that inundated the complex. Over the weekend, workers there discovered a crack where highly contaminated water was spilling directly into the ocean.
The tsunami pulverized about 250 miles (400 kilometers) of the northeastern coast, flattening whole towns and cities and killing up to 25,000 people. Tens of thousands more lost their homes in the crush of water, and several thousand were forced from the area near the plant because of radiation concerns.
Many of those "radiation refugees" have grown frustrated with the mandatory 12-mile (20-kilometer) no-go zone, and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. - whose stock value has plunged to its lowest level ever - said Tuesday it would give affected towns 20 million yen ($240,000) each.
Also Tuesday, TEPCO announced that samples taken from seawater near one of the reactors contained 7.5 million times the legal limit for radioactive iodine on April 2. Two days later, that figure dropped to 5 million.