Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the utility operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said that they were able to detect a record reading of strontium-90 levels in the water last July. The radioactive substance makes up almost half of all the beta particle-emitting materials found in the contaminated water at the plant, which suffered a nuclear meltdown in 2011.
TEPCO said they initially detected just 900,000 becquerels per liter of strontium-90 but eventually they found out that there were problems in their measuring equipment. They stopped releasing data readings for July and August around October, and they re-calculated their computations through rechecks. The new reading of the water samples taken showed it actually had 5 million becquerels per liter. They are also estimating that the total amount of the beta particle-emitting substances in the sample may be around 10 million bequerels. The past record for the observation well, which is located in between the crippled No 1 and 2 reactors, was just at 3.1 million bequerels according to a TEPCO official.
The reading of beta particle-emitting substances are usually lower when the concentration is higher. So they changed their measurement method around October but did not announce it during that time. They will continue the re-analysis of past water samples as they may still be subject to some mistakes. The danger of a substance like strontium is that it accumulates in the bones and can eventually cause bone cancer and leukemia.
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