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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 19 May, 2019
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Three Fukushima workers hospitalised with skin lesions

Staff working to try and restore power to the Fukushima cooling systems are hospitalised after major radiation exposure.

This photo, newly released by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, shows the damage caused to the plant immediately following the tsunami of 13 days ago.
This photo, newly released by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, shows the damage caused to the plant immediately following the tsunami of 13 days ago.
Image: AP

THREE SUPPORT STAFF from the stricken Fukushima I nuclear power plant have been hospitalised suffering from skin lesions.

Officials from the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the three men – who had been working in the basement of the number 3 reactor – had been exposed to between 170 and 180 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation.

By comparison, the average annual exposure is around 2.4 mSv per year. Nuclear staff, the Sydney Herald Sun reported, are allowed to be exposed to up to 20 mSv annual.

The government had been allowing staff to be exposed to up to 250 mSv of radiation at the plant, PA explained. An exposure limit of 100mSv is considered the lowest level at which there is a considerable risk of cancer.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency as saying two of the staff had been taken to hospital after their legs had been ‘contaminated by radioactive substances’.

It is not known whether their exposure was connected to yesterday’s worrying observation of plumes of black smoke emerging from the reactor, the first time that such discharges were observed since the plant’s cooling systems were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

The death toll from the combined disasters has now reached 9,700, Al Jazeera reported, with a further 16,500 people listed as missing and another 2,766 hospitalised.

It added that the total economic cost of repairing the infrastructural damage is now expected to reach $300bn (€213bn).

The level of radioactive iodine in the municipal water supply in Tokyo – which yesterday had been over twice the limit allowable for infants to drink – has fallen back below permissible limits, however.

Yesterday, Ireland’s national radiological institute told TheJournal.ie that the radiation leak from the ongoing troubles at Fukushima I could potentially have reached Ireland, though the high atmospheric pressure brought on by the recent good weather may have sent the plume of radioactivity towards Scandinavia instead.

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Gavan Reilly

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