Tue, Apr 05, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Weak radioactive dust coming close to Taiwan

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Radioactive dust from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant could come close to Taiwan tomorrow, but radiation levels will remain “very low” and be of no risk to human health, the Atomic Energy Council said yesterday.

In its presentation, the council said it had used weather information provided by the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) from yesterday until Friday to estimate the impact of the radioactive dust on Taiwan.

One of the wind forecast models showed that the radioactive dust would approach the nation between tomorrow and Friday, it said.

“On Friday, the dust will come within 200km of the nation’s northeast coast, which will be the closest it gets,” the council said.

For Thursday, the council forecast that the maximum impact of the radioactive dust on the nation would be 0.0223 microsieverts per hour, which remained lower than the natural background value of 0.1 microsieverts per hour, it said.

The amount of radiation in the dust does not pose a health risk because it would take the human body 1,000 hours of being battered by the cloud of fallout to absorb the same radiation as a single chest X-ray, the council said.

The Government Information Office yesterday also said that radioactive dust would only come within about 200km of Taiwan at its closest over the next few days.

The council said calculations for the maximum impact of radiation fallout from Fukushima Dai-ichi were based on specific criteria — radiation levels at the plant must reach 78.4 microsieverts per hour, the emission of radioactive dusts must be continuous and the dust must also be blown directly toward Taiwan.

Meanwhile, in a markedly different assessment, Academia Sinica said the radioactive dust could arrive on the nation’s east coast today, albeit in a highly diluted form.

Liu Shaw-chen (劉紹臣), director of Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Environmental Change, said radiation within 20km of the plant had dropped to an average of 1 to 2 microsieverts per hour on Sunday.

“If the average radiation level of the dust is 1.5 microsieverts, it would potentially be diluted 100 times to 0.015 microsierverts [by the time it reached Taiwan],” Liu said.

Liu said radioactive dust would be carried to Taiwan via the northeast monsoon, which could bring rain to mountainous areas along the east coast. Radiation levels in the rain could be between 10 and 100 times higher than 0.015 microsieverts, he said.

Residents in these areas are advised to carry umbrellas and raincoats to avoid contact with radioactive fallout, he said.

So far, no abnormal levels of radiation have been detected in sea areas around northern Taiwan since the council began working with the Coast Guard Administration on March 18 to send two vessels out daily to check radiation levels. The ships have traveled as far as 630km away from the Port of Keelung.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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