Fukushima radiation data is wildly wrong, management apologizes
Subodh Varma,TNN | Feb 10, 2014, 03.56 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Tepco, the utility company that is managing the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan said that there were mistakes in the radiation levels they recorded last year. According to Japanese media, Tepco announced last week that what was recorded as 900,000 becquerels per liter of deadly beta radiation from a test-well last July was wrong and the actual level should read 5 million becq per liter. That’s five times more than what they announced previously, and nearly 170,000 times more than the permissible level.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on 7 February that it will review a “massive” amount of radiation data it has collected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because readings may be lower than actual figures due to improper measurement.
“We are very sorry, but we found cases in which beta radiation readings turned out to be wrong when the radioactivity concentration of a sample was high,” TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told a press conference, according to Kyodo News.
Beta rays are high speed electrons that penetrate living matter with ease and can cause several types of cancer and death. These lethal rays are emitted from various radioactive materials, but mainly from Strontium-90, which is a by-product of reactions occurring in nuclear power plant reactors.
It is likely that the total radioactivity of water samples is 10 million becq/liter if all bet ray sources are counted, according to Asahi Shimbun.
Tepco has not yet revealed results of 140 samples taken between June and November last year, fearing similar under-estimates. The company said that “malfunctions of analytical equipment” caused these errors, Asahi Shimbun said.
Strontium-90 has a half life of 28.8 years, that is any amount of the radioactive substance will decay to half the starting amount in 28.8 years. It can thus get absorbed and continue to damage living tissue of plants as well as animals including fish.
The well from which this sample was taken is near the embankment between the damaged reactors and the sea.
Meanwhile the company also revealed that on February 6, 600 liters of contaminated water, containing 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged during the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan’s eastern coast in March 2011. The utility company Tepco has struggled to control the situation with at least one nuclear reactor in a stare of meltdown. Over 360,000 tons of contaminated water has accumulated at the site after being poured over the simmering reactors.
As usual the industry insists the radioactive material released produces a radiological dose to individuals which is perfectly safe.
However, the industry has no believable clue as to how much material has been released.