Tokyo: Japan now says it has found contaminated seawater farther north of a damaged nuclear plant than first thought. Highly radioactive iodine has been leaking from the complex may be making its way into the water, said the officials, adding to radiation levels.  Workers have resumed pumping 1out the hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water inside several buildings at the six-unit plant.

The country is facing plenty of problems. The radiation figures were miscalculated and there is no place to store the contaminated water which has thwarted the efforts of labours who are struggling to cool down the overheating plant and avert a disaster. The adversity may have serious implications.

The coastal Fukushima Daiichi power plant, located 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, has been leaking radiation since a magnitude-9.0 quake on March 11 triggered a tsunami that engulfed the complex.

The contaminated water, discovered last Thursday, has been emitting radiation that measured more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour in a recent reading at Unit 2 some
100,000 times normal amounts, plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The water must be removed and safely stored before work can continue to power up the plant's cooling system, nuclear safety officials said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano repeated on Monday that the contaminated water in Unit 2 appeared to be due to a temporary partial meltdown of the reactor core, as officials scrambled to determine the source of the radioactive water.

He called it "very unfortunate" but said the spike in radiation appeared limited to the unit.

However, new readings show contamination in the ocean has spread about 1.6 kilometers farther north of the nuclear site than before. Radioactive iodine-131 was discovered just
offshore from Unit 5 and Unit 6 at a level 1,150 times higher than normal, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters.

He had said earlier there was no link between the radioactive water leaking inside the plant and the radiation in the sea. He reversed that position on Monday, saying he does suspect that radioactive water from the plant may indeed be leaking into the ocean.

Closer to the plant, radioactivity in seawater tested about 1,250 times higher than normal last week and climbed to 1,850 times normal over the weekend. Nishiyama said the increase was a concern, but also said the area is not a source of seafood and that the contamination posed no immediate threat to human health.

Nuclear safety officials say workers' time inside the crippled units is closely monitored to minimize their exposure to radioactivity, but two workers were hospitalized Thursday when they suffered burns after stepping into contaminated water. They were to be released from the hospital on Monday.

(Agencies)