2 Septembre 2013
September 2, 2013
TEPCO steps up monitoring of toxic water leaks
The operator of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has boosted efforts to monitor hundreds of storage tanks holding radioactive water.
Tokyo Electric Power Company has increased the number of inspectors from 10 to 90 and doubled the tank's monitoring activities to 4 times a day.
On August 19th, TEPCO workers found contaminated water leak from a storage tank in an area near the number 4 reactor.
Over the weekend, the operator detected extremely high levels of radiation in storage tanks in 2 other areas. More water leaks were also found.
The reading at one of the tanks was 18 hundred millisieverts per hour at the highest. Most of the contamination was caused by radiation called beta rays.
Beta rays can cause serious burns if a person comes in direct contact with them. Beta rays can also damage the eyes such as causing cataracts. The government sets the exposure limits for eye lens at 150 millisieverts per year. 18 hundred millisieverts are extremely high and can reach the limit level 5 minutes after exposure.
TEPCO says all the storage tanks where the contaminated water leaks were found are not welded together. More contaminated water leaks from the tanks are possible.
The operator says it has about 300 such tanks and will monitor them 4 times a day. For 2 of the inspections, the inspectors will use radiation measuring equipment.
When high levels of radiation are detected, the workers will conduct further monitoring approaching closer to the tank.
NHK's reporter says there is a possibility that more contaminated water leaks will be found with the boosted monitoring. The reporter says TEPCO will have to ensure the safety of the workers and conduct strict monitoring to see the radioactive water is not seeping into the ocean.