” Record radiation levels have been detected at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says radiation was measured inside a duct connecting reactor buildings to an outside ventilation pipe. The highest radiation estimates could kill an exposed person in 20 minutes, according to local media. This is the highest radiation level ever detected outside Fukushima reactor buildings. Earlier, TEPCO measured radiation of at least 10 sieverts around the same pipe. The new measurements show radiation levels that are twice as high. TEPCO stressed that it is highly likely that the ventilation pipe still contains radioactive substances. In an interview to Voice of Russia, Mycle Schneider, an independent analyst on energy and nuclear policy, talked in detail about the situation.
“This is most obviously the latest in the series of discoveries of the hot spot. So, there is very local, extremely high level of radiation, which can kill somebody in a very short period of time, rather deliver a lethal doze in a few minutes,” – Mr Schneider said.
“It shows also that we are now over 2,5 years after the start of the disaster in Japan, and there is still no appropriate monitoring for radioactivity on the site”, Mr Schneider said. “We have a situation where the infrastructure, like buildings and various facilities, is exposed to sea water which means highly charged in salt and, therefore, particularly fragile and exposed to corrosion.”
Mr Schneider pointed out, that the latest cases were an indication that “there are many places where there could be very high levels of radiation”. This case, according to Mr Scheider, also indicates that “other places might have received fractions of highly radioactive spent fuel pieces.”
Mr Schneider also expressed his doubts that everything that could be done to minimize the catastrophe is done.
“However, it is obvious that we are facing the situation that is completely unprecedented, unprecedented in scope and unprecedented in complexity. So, one has to be careful with giving lessons. However, unfortunately, there has not been a concerted international effort to assist the Japanese with this tragic event. And, I think, that is really something that should be done most urgently to try to get together some sort of international task force for Fukushima which would pull together the best experts in the key areas of concern and bring them together to develop short, medium, and long-term strategies to secure the site,” Mr Schneider said.
Mr Schneider concluded saying that there are “two families of problems”:
“One is the continuous leakage of radioactivity mainly through water into the ocean and through the contamination of ground water. So, that is an ongoing process and it is increasing radioactivity levels in the sea and in the surroundings. The other risk area is entirely different in nature. We can unfortunately not exclude a much more dramatic situation where, for example, we have a draining of cooling water of one of the pools that are up in the forth-fifth floor, and that contains very large amounts of radioactive inventories and if such a pool is drained, the spent fuel is highly radioactive, if used fuel is exposed to air, we could get a spontaneous ignition and fire. That would mean releasing quantities of radiation to the atmosphere readily dispersible and inhalable that would be dozens of times what had been released at an accident like Chernobyl’s.”
Fukushima plant record radiation fatal in 20 minutes
Fukushima’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), on Friday detected record radiation levels in a duct that connects reactor buildings and an external ventilation pipe. Radiation found near the steel pipe connecting reactor buildings could kill anyone exposed to it in 20 minutes, local media reported.
This is the highest level ever detected outside the reactor buildings, according to local broadcaster NHK. Earlier TEPCO said radiation levels of at least 10 Sieverts per hour were found on the pipe.
The ventilation pipe used to conduct radioactive gasses after the nuclear disaster may still contain radioactive substances, TEPCO added.
The water leakage has raised health concerns among Japan’s neighbors. For instance, South Korea has been testing fish caught off the country’s coast, according to the country’s fisheries ministry.
Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave assurances that the radioactive water will only reach the US West coast at safe levels.
On March 11, 2011, a nine-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. Cooling systems in the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material.
In October, TEPCO said Japanese technicians found a new leak of radioactive water in one of the storage tanks at the damaged nuclear power station, noting that 430 liters (100 gallons) of the toxic water had leaked from the 450-ton tank because of heavy rainfall.
Currently, 400 tons of contaminated water are being produced at the site on a daily basis. In an attempt to solve the storage problem the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposed on Wednesday to consider dumping toxic water into the ocean after lowering the level of radioactive materials.
“Regarding the growing amounts of contaminated water at the site, TEPCO should… examine all options for its further management, including the possibility of resuming controlled discharges (into the sea) in compliance with authorized limits,” the IAEA said in a statement.
TEPCO has been testing a high-tech water processing machine called ALPS, which can remove all radioactive materials from the water except tritium. However, the low-energy isotope is considered to be less dangerous than other radioactive isotopes such as caesium and strontium, also contained in the tainted water. “