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Radioactive Strontium-90 found in groundwater near Fukushima nuclear reactor

Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant reports a toxic substance in groundwater as the country's new guidelines for nuclear reactivation are approved. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

TOKYO, Japan - High levels of toxic Strontium-90 have been found in groundwater at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, its operator said Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which has been struggling to clean up the plant, said nearly 30 times the permitted level of the radioactive isotope was discovered in a well dug last month outside the turbine hall of Reactor No.2.

The company said it had not detected any rise in the levels of Strontium-90 in sea water, and that it believed the substance was trapped during the initial 2011 nuclear fallout.

Journalists have been given a rare glimpse inside Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled in the 9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the country two years ago. NBC News' Arata Yamamoto reports.

It plans to inject chemicals into the ground between the well and shore to prevent any leaks into the ocean.

The plant was the site of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents in March 2011 when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling to the station, causing meltdowns in three reactors.

Meanwhile, Japan’s newly-created Nuclear Regulatory Agency on Wednesday announced guidelines for restarting the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Among the new requirements will be back-up power sources and cooling systems in case of a shutdown.

Plant operators will be forced to build a sea wall high enough to withstand tsunamis.

Currently, only two of the country’s 50 nuclear reactors are operational and the agency will begin reviewing proposals submitted by electric power companies to restart their reactors next month.

An earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear meltdown -- residents of Japan's northeast coast suffered through three intertwined disasters after a massive 9.0 magnitude temblor struck off the coast on March 11, 2011.

 

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