Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported
Radiation near water storage tank high enough to kill exposed person in four hours
Tokyo Electric Power Company’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its contaminated water storage tanks (bottom). Radiation near a tank holding highly contaminated water at the plant has spiked 18-fold, the plant’s operator said yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Kyodo
Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting fresh concern over safety at the wrecked facility.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours.
Tepco said water levels inside the tank had not changed, indicating there had not been a leak.
Last month Tepco said another storage tank had leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water, possibly into the sea.
Japan’s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.
Experts said those leaks may have started soon after the plant was struck by a tsunami on March 11th 2011.
The tsunami smashed into the plant after Japan’s north-east coast was rocked by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake. The waves killed almost 19,000 people, while the resulting triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi forced 160,000 people to abandon their homes. – (Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2013)