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Radiation fears overblown, EPA says

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- With black smoke rising from one of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors Wednesday, the U.S. EPA said the radiation threat to the United States was near zero.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it evacuated workers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant after black smoke was reported at the No. 3 reactor, Japan's Kyodo News agency reports.

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The nuclear disaster that followed Japan's magnitude-9 earthquake March 11 sparked fears that radioactivity could become a threat in the United States.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it found trace amounts of radioactive iodine, cesium and tellurium from the Japanese nuclear accident at four air monitors on the U.S. West Coast.

"The radiation levels detected on the filters from California and Washington monitors are hundreds of thousands to millions of times below levels of concern," the agency said in a statement.

Results from air filters in Hawaii contained Japanese isotopes at levels "far below" any level of concern, the EPA added.

Exposure to small levels of radiation is common. The EPA said Americans receive radiation doses 100,000 times higher than levels coming from Japan during a typical round-trip international flight.

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