Reactor radiation reaches Europe

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The Independent Online

Fallout from Japan's damaged nuclear plant is expected to reach Europe this week, but experts say the particles will be minuscule.

A plume from the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex carrying trace amounts of radioactive iodine has been detected in Iceland, the country's Radiation Safety Authority said.

However, it added, the concentration was "less than a millionth" of what was found in European countries in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that spewed radiation over a large distance.

Recollections of the accident's aftermath continue to haunt many in European, putting them on edge as they watch the Japanese nuclear crisis unfold.

"We thus conclude that there is no reason to worry about radioactivity levels in Iceland, nor anywhere in Europe, resulting from the nuclear accident in Japan," said Sigurdur Emil Palsson, head of emergency planning.

Elsewhere, French authorities said very weakly contaminated air is expected to reach France today while Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection said if and when radiation arrived it would be in marginal amounts that would pose neither a risk to humans or the environment.

"The measurements will also be much lower that those after the Chernobyl disaster," it said.

Gerhard Wotawa, an expert at Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, said the amounts of radiation detected so far were a fraction of what people are normally exposed to, adding that doctors, pilots and others are often confronted with much higher concentrations.

For those close to the crippled Japanese plant, the situation very different - and could keep getting worse.

According to the Austrian institute, local weather conditions at the end of the week could bring more radioactivity inland instead of out into the Pacific.