Low levels of radiation from Japan recorded in SC

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- Electric utilities in North Carolina and South Carolina report they have detected trace radiation from Japan's nuclear reactor accidents that followed an earthquake and tsunami.

Progress Energy and Duke Energy in North Carolina and South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. all operate nuclear plants and say they have detected trace amounts of radiation.

"A normal operating reactor, they can control the gasses and everything else from it," says USC Director of Radiation Safety Dan Zurosky. Zurosky says the chemical released from the reactor is iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear fission.

Nuclear experts and health officials say there is no public health risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says people are exposed to much more radiation on an international airline flight.

Read more NRC disappointed in Hartsville plant performance Report: SC among nation TMs most at-risk sites for nuclear catastrophe SCANA: Jenkinsville nuclear site safe

"Our sun gives off a certain amount of radiation, certain stars that may have exploded millions of years ago and radiation is finally coming to the earth. We have naturally occurring radioactive materials in cement," adds Zurosky.

Massachusetts, Nevada and other Western states also have reported miniscule amounts of radiation. Some people in those states are taking iodine tablets.

"Totally unnecessary," says Zurosky.

A Russian woman who lived through two nuclear reactor meltdowns says the Fukushima disaster is the worst since the Chernobyl explosion in 1986.

25 years later Natalia Manzurova and Natalia Mironova delivering a lecture about the event at USC Monday. Mironova says the incident in Japan is worse than Chernobyl.

"First of all, three reactors exploded in Japan, not one like in Chernobyl, also this is an over populated region." Mironova says of the Japanese earthquake.

Mironova says all countries should use an alternative form of energy that isn't dangerous. Both women are touring the country to teach people the lessons of Chernobyl.