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Dublin: 20°C Monday 15 August 2022

Fatal radiation levels at Fukushima now 'off the scale'

Levels of radiation in some areas of the plant are so high they would be lethal within one hour.

Smoke rises from Fukushima reactor 3 in this March 21 photo
Smoke rises from Fukushima reactor 3 in this March 21 photo
Image: AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co

LETHAL LEVELS OF radiation have been discovered in areas of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant almost five months after it was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami.

Plant operator the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said radiation greater than 10 sieverts per hour was found at the foot of a ventilation chimney between two reactors, Reuters reports. According to the World Nuclear Association, a single dose of 10 sieverts is fatal, while just half that would kill 50 per cent of people exposed to it.

Radiation above 10 sieverts per hour could not be measured because that is the maximum reading on a Geiger counter, Bloomberg reports. Such high levels can cause the intestines to stop functioning properly and blood vessels to leak, according to radiation expert William McBride.

It is feared that radiation levels could have been this high since the initial disaster on March 11, but have only just been discovered. Al-Jazeera reporter Aela Callan said: “It is now looking more likely that this area has been this radioactive since the earthquake and tsunami but noone realised until now.”

A reading of 10 sieverts per hour is equivalent to 10,000 millisieverts – or 40 times the maximum dose of 250 millisieverts that workers at the plant are allowed to be exposed to.

Authorities in Ukraine, site of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, have said they will donate 2,000 personal Geiger counters and 1,000 gas masks to the Japanese government to aid in containing the crisis. The equipment will be handed over on Thursday, Bloomberg reports.

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Tepco has pledged to stabilise the reactors at the Fukushima plant by January.

Read more: Full coverage of the Fukushima disaster >

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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