D.N. (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 13 aprilie 2011

The radioactive Easter lamb

The Nuclear Physics Institute has announced the discovery of traces of radioactive iodine in rainwater and milk sheep. The news comes on the same day that the Japanese Agency for Nuclear Safety raised the rating of the nuclear incident of Fukushima, putting it on a par with the one of Chernobyl. As a result, despite the authorities" claim that there is no danger for people for now, the panic has already set on among the population. Since so far only sheep milk has been affected, it is expected that the first victim of this announcement will be the "Easter lamb", which could result in a drastic drop in the sales of lamb meat, in particular that produced domestically. It has been proven that people are quick to react in such cases, just like they did when the sales of beef or chicken fell as after the much advertised mad cow disease or the avian flu.

Concerning the current situation, in Romania, nuclear energy experts claim that the numbers are low and that they will have no impact on the population. The tests were performed on the water samples collected on March 27th, March 29th and April 2nd, in the Slănic-Prahova area. The measurements have revealed that the concentration of radioactive iodine in rainwater and sheep milk did not exceed the maximum allowed level.

The head of the Romanian Nuclear Physics Institute, Nicolae Zamfir, said that the recorded levels are extremely low and that they will not affect the population and the environment in any way: "The results of the measurements are not normal, but the measurements which are made on the surface, in particular in the Măgurele area in the last 3-4 weeks do not indicate any increase in the radioactivity levels. A group of researchers found in Slănic where the radioactivity levels are at zero found traces of radioactive iodine in water, but they are so low that they do not change the values at ground level. There is absolutely no danger at all. The values are so low, that they are similar to those usually found in nature".

The population is extremely concerned, especially since the authorities are making contradictory statements, going from ultra-optimistic messages to those that illustrate moderate concern.

The fact that potassium iodide pills have been flying off the shelves indicate that people are trying to proactively protect themselves, thus falling into a different trap. The warehouses are empty in spite of market demand. Doctors warn that excess iodine can cause severe diseases of the thyroid gland, including hyperthyroidism. Most foods currently contain iodine and no excess consumption of iodine is recommended.

In order to assuage fears, two weeks ago, the Ministry of Health warned that if needed, the preventive distribution of non-radioactive iodine will be done in an organized manner, depending on the recommendations of doctors.

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