Japanese Nuclear Plant Officials Apologize Over Radioactivity Scare

Inaccurate reading shows levels 10 million times higher than normal.

ByABC News
March 27, 2011, 12:44 PM

March 27, 2011— -- 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.