Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, announced on Thursday that the radiation levels in the seawater near the plant has reached its highest point in two years. The highest peak was reached on Wednesday, the same day that six workers were exposed to radiation when one of them accidentally cut a pipe from one of the tanks containing the highly irradiated water.
The beleaguered utility operator said that the Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 readings reached 1,200 becquerels per liter on Wednesday, just outside the No. 2 reactor, one of three reactors that had a meltdown during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This was 13 times more than the reading the day before. The Cesium-134 reading was at 370 becquerels per liter and Cesium-137 was 830/liter, whereas the regulatory limit for it is 90 bq/liter and 60 bq/liter respectively. Cesium emits gamma rays that are harmful to humans.
A spokesman from TEPCO said that this was due to construction work that was happening near the building of the No. 2 reactor. They are injecting chemicals to harden the ground to prevent the contaminated water from flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Because they were applying pressure to the ground, some of the contaminated soil was pushed into the water, thereby increasing the radiation level. The reading was taken hundreds of meters away from the port entrance connecting the plant to the ocean. Aside from the previously announced 300 tons of water per day that was leaking from the plant, TEPCO announced last week that 430 liters (113 gallons) of the irradiated water probably spilled into the ocean when it leaked from another one of the storage tanks. According to officials, there has been no direct impact on the environment so far, as the radiation will be diluted by the sea.
[ via Reuters ]
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