A United Nations committee has released a report on the radiation levels at Fukushima and its effects based on the findings submitted by plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., (TEPCO). The U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has found that while no apparent increase in cancer cases were found among Fukushima residents, TEPCO might have miscalculated the levels of exposure contract workers have been subjected to.
The report was based on a study conducted by the committee on 4,000 TEPCO employees and 21,000 other workers subcontracted by the company to help clean up the crippled power plant. The committee also requested TEPCO records on radiation exposure of workers with actual measurement values and radioactive materials density to compare with their own findings. Experts who reviewed both data found similarity in the assessments of both on effective doses of exposure by TEPCO employees. However, with regard to the subcontracted workers, the U.N. committee had a higher estimate compared to the ones recorded by TEPCO.
Results from the U.N. experts’ showed that TEPCO’s record for subcontracted employees were less than half of what the committee found. Also, no consideration on probable exposure of both TEPCO and subcontracted workers to shorter-lived isotopes of iodine than iodine-131 through inhalation was mentioned. The report further said, “As a result, the assessed doses from internal exposure could have been underestimated by about 20 percent.” TEPCO has since re-evaluated the internal dose level of exposure they have set for both their employees and contracted workers.
UNSCEAR chair Carl-Magnus Larsson also noted that thyroid cancer cases may increase among infants aged 1 year old who resided up to 30 kilometers from the power plant at the time of the meltdown but was unsure if it will be reported in cancer statistics in the future. The committee has recommended for the Fukushima Prefecture to continue thyroid cancer screenings of younger children for future analysis.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]
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