Jun 4, 2011
Tokyo – High levels of radiation were detected at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, the operator said Saturday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it sent a robot into the building of reactor 1 Friday and detected up to 4,000 millisieverts per hour at the south-east corner of the building.
That means staying in that area for four minutes makes a worker exposed to the maximum annual limit of 250 millisieverts per year though no worker plans to work there, the operator said.
The nuclear crisis prompted the government to raise the limit to 250 millisieverts per year from 100 millisieverts.
The plant was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and has leaked radioactive substances ever since.
The operator also said late Friday two workers at the plant were confirmed to have received cumulative doses of radiation far higher than the official limit.
TEPCO, which has been criticized for its lax safety management, said more workers might have been exposed to large radiation doses.
Meanwhile, a government taskforce on new national energy and environmental strategies has come up with draft policy outlines underscoring the promotion of nuclear power generation, Kyodo News reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.
But some government officials have already cast doubts on the direction of future policy debate in the wake of the nuclear crisis, Kyodo said.
The government failed to release some radiation data collected soon after the start of the nuclear crisis at the plant.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it did not disclose data gathered in emergency monitoring including on the amounts of radioactive substances in the air and in weeds measured between March 12 and 15 at locations near the plant.
The undisclosed data the agency provided Friday showed radioactive iodine and caesium were found in air samples collected in areas 7 kilometres from the plant on the morning of March 12, or shortly before TEPCO released steam at the plant and a hydrogen explosion occurred at reactor 1.
Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the agency, apologized because the data had remained unpublished. But he said that the agency had no intention to conceal the data.