SPRINGFIELD – Minute levels of radioactive materials believed to be related to the troubled Fukushima nuclear power reactors in Japan have been detected by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). Radioactive iodine was found in grass clippings collected in Will County and in an air sample collected at IEMA’s radiochemistry lab in Springfield.
“These findings are not surprising since traces of iodine have been identified in at least 15 other states,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “These levels are very low and present no hazard to people in Illinois. We will continue to track the deposition of radiation in Illinois to ensure there is no impact on public health and safety.”
The grass clippings were collected by members of IEMA’s Radiological Assessment Field Team (RAFT) last week as part of the team’s role in a drill of the emergency plan for the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant.
In addition, IEMA took air samples outside the agency’s lab in Springfield. Both samples were analyzed in the agency’s lab. The iodine detected in the samples is 200,000 times lower than the regulatory limit for effluent from nuclear power plants.
IEMA maintains an environmental monitoring program for several sites around Illinois where radioactive releases could occur, including the six operating nuclear power plants, the closed nuclear power plant at Zion, a closed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility near Sheffield and the uranium hexafluoride plant near Metropolis. The program includes periodic collection of samples of air, water, vegetation, milk and fish.
Monken said IEMA has enhanced this monitoring program to detect and quantify material from the Japanese reactors. These enhancements include analyzing air, milk, egg and grass samples from around the state.