Japanese Nuclear Plant Officials Apologize Over Radioactivity Scare

Were Warning Signs Ignored in Japan?
Share
Copy

Japanese officials have apologized after an inaccurate reading of a massive increase in radioactivity at the Fukushima Dai-ichi today caused a panic that led to workers to flee the facility.

The inaccurate reading at Unit 2 showed levels 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor's cooling system. Such a massive spike led the workers taking the measurements to immediately leave the plant before taking a second measurement.

If exposed to such high levels workers would die within four of five hours, according to Professor Edward Morse of the University of California, Berkeley.

The inaccurate reading was confirmed as a mistake Sunday night by operators at the plant.

"The number is not credible," said Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) spokesman Takashi Kurita. "We are very sorry."

Kurita said that officials are taking another sample to find out the current accurate levels. He said that he is unsure when the new readings will be available.

Officials have also confirmed that radioactive water has now been found in all four of the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. The most recent airborne radiation levels in Unit 2 have measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour, according to Kurita.

Government spokesman Yukio Edano has said that the radiation is "almost certainly" seeping from a cracked reactor core in one of the units, while he insisted on Sunday that the situation at the plant has stabilized.

"We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning worse. But the prospects are not improving in a straight line and we've expected twists and turns. The contaminated water is one of them and we'll continue to repair the damage," Edano said.

Still, a grim and lengthy outlook for the country's ongoing nuclear situation is being acknowledged.

"We cannot say at this time how many months or years it will take," TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said on Sunday. Michio Kaku, a Japanese-American physicist told ABC News that the amount of the impairment is still unclear.

"Quite frankly, we don't know the extent of core damage. In unit one, we suspect that 70% of the core is damaged. In unit 2 we suspect 33 percent of the core is damaged. In unit 3 we really don't know," Kaku said.

According to Minoru Ogoda, of Japan's nuclear safety agency, each Unit may contain tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water, which workers must safely remove and store.

It has been confirmed that pools of radioactive water have been found in Units 1 and 3, while standing water at Units 2 and 4 is now being tested for radioactivity.

Plans to pump the water into containers in each Unit designed for such a situation were thwarted when they turned out to be completely full, according to Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The contaminated water also caused a roadblock in connecting regular power to restart the cooling systems, is it filled the turbine buildings that cables had to be laid through.

Speaking with reporters Sunday evening, Nishiyama acknowledged the challenges that are facing the relief effort but insisted is stabilizing.

"The problem is that right now nobody can reach the turbine houses where key electrical work must be done. There is a possibility that we may have to give up on that plan," he said.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
A Gilchrist county sheriffs car sits at the end of a trailer home where 7 members of a family were slain by their grandfather in Bell, FL, Thursday, Sept., 18, 2014. The grandfather, Don Spirit, pictured, also killed himself.
Phil Sandlin/AP Photo | Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office
PHOTO:
St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Ecorse Michigan
PHOTO: Phoenix police officers escort Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, to the 4th Avenue Jail following his arrest, Sept. 17, 2014 in Phoenix.
The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski/AP Photo