Japanese Official Drinks Water From Stricken Nuke Plant

Reporters had dared him to prove it was safe

A Japanese politician drank water from puddles at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after reporters dared him to prove it was safe.

Yasuhiro Sonoda appeared nervous as he downed a glass of decontaminated water during a televised news conference. The liquid came from puddles under two reactor buildings at the plant, which suffered a series of meltdowns following an earthquake and tsunami in March.

"Just drinking [decontaminated water] doesn't mean safety has been confirmed," said Sonoda, who is the parliamentary spokesman. "Presenting data to the public is the best way."

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Before he chugged the glass, Sonoda had read out test results finding Cesium-134 and 137, as well as alpha and beta radiation were not detected in the water. There was a small amount of tritium, he said, but at a level called acceptable by the World Health Organization.

Reporters had put pressure on the member of Parliament to drink the water amid concerns it was being used to irrigate crops.

Officials said they will allow reporters on to the site on Nov. 12, a further sign they believe the cleanup is gong well.

Still, the 12-mile exclusion zone is still in force around the plant, and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.The government hopes to bring the plant to a cold shutdown by the end of the year. But fully decommissioning the plant could take as long as 30 years.

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