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Typhoons could carry radiation to Korea

With this summer's typhoon season already underway, concerns have risen that the storms' easterly winds may bring larger amounts of radiation, which is still seeping into the atmosphere.-The Korean Herald/ANN
Robert Lee

Mon, May 30, 2011
The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

With this summer's typhoon season already underway, concerns have risen that the storms' easterly winds may bring larger amounts of radiation, which is still seeping into the atmosphere, according to experts.

Researchers claim that if a typhoon were to touch down in Japan, its counter-clockwise spinning winds may carry radiation to Korea.

Roughly 11 to 12 typhoons are expected to form in the northern Pacific Ocean this summer, with at least one or two directly affecting Korea, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

"Japan is still unable to block radiation from floating up into the atmosphere after the initial damage to Fukushima nuclear plant," a researcher for a state-run research institute told Yonhap News agency.

"There is a danger that a typhoon's easterly winds will spread (the radiation) not only throughout Japan but also towards the Korean Peninsula as well," he said.

According to the researcher, simulations must be run to determine the course of radioactive materials carried by the winds, to come up with appropriate measures.

But other experts say the possibilities are low.

According to Moon Il-ju, professor at the Department of Marine Industry and Maritime Police at Jeju National University, there will be more typhoons headed toward Japan this year.

"In the event of a typhoon, the possibility of radiation from Fukushima spreading to Tokyo and other regions of Japan is high, and cannot exclude the possibility that it will spread towards the Korean Peninsula," Moon said.

However, he added that the possibility of typhoons carrying radiation to Korea is low because eastern winds from a typhoon cannot blow continuously, and rain that usually accompanies typhoons will pick up the radioactive material.

Kwon Hyuk-jo of the Typhoon Research Center agrees, saying that although there is a worst-case scenario that the right conditions will blow radioactive material here, the possibility is low.

Officials at the KMA are closely watching the effects that typhoons will have, and they believe the possibilities are low as well.

Typhoon Aere, the first of the season formed on May 7, and Typhoon Songda on May 27, both have passed near the South of Japan, away from Korea.

"The tropical winds in a typhoon spin towards the center, or the eye, of the cyclone, so even if one were to come from Japan, rain will absorb most of the radioactive material, so the amount flying in will be quite low," said a KMA official.

"The amount seeping into the atmosphere in Japan is quite low, so there is no need for concern," he said.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported on its website Saturday that Japan's crippled nuclear plant is not fully prepared for the heavy rain and winds of a typhoon heading toward the country. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plant, said some reactor buildings were uncovered, prompting fears the storm may carry radioactive material into the air and sea. Typhoon Songda was expected to hit Japan as early as Monday, but it was unclear whether Fukushima could be directly in the path of the storm.

 
 
 
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