Six workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were exposed to a leak of highly radioactive water yesterday, the latest in a string of mishaps the country’s nuclear watchdog has attributed to carelessness, saying they could have been avoided.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has been battling to contain radioactive water at the facility, which suffered triple meltdowns and hydrogen explosions following a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011.
In the latest incident, a worker mistakenly detached a pipe connected to a treatment system to remove salt from the hundreds of tonnes of water TEPCO pumps over the melted fuel in wrecked reactors at Fukushima to keep them cool.
“It is serious in that it was another problem caused by carelessness, but I do not believe it is a seriously troubling dosage,” Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka said. “But the fact that there has been a string of incidents occurring on a daily basis that could have been avoided — I think that is the large problem.”
Tanaka urged TEPCO to improve its handling of contaminated water, but stopped short of saying if it faced any penalties.
The accidents at the Fukushima plant, 220km north of Tokyo, are adding to a crisis no one seems to know how to contain and stirring doubt over TEPCO’s abilities to carry out a complex cleanup widely expected to take decades.
Last week, the regulator ordered TEPCO to draft in additional workers and report within a week on its measures to tackle the hazardous clean-up.
TEPCO said 7 tonnes of water were spilled in yesterday’s incident at the treatment facility, but were contained within the site, adding that the leaked water had an all-beta radiation level of 34 million becquerels per liter.
Tanaka said the leaked water had already been treated to remove cesium, which emits strong gamma radiation harmful to humans.
On Monday, TEPCO said a plant worker accidentally halted power to pumps used to cool the damaged reactors. A backup system kicked in immediately, but the event was another reminder of the precarious situation at the plant.
Last week, TEPCO said 430 liters of contaminated water had spilled out of a storage tank at Fukushima and probably flowed to the ocean.
Japan’s nuclear regulator said yesterday that incident was equivalent to “Level 0” on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events Scale, but gave no official rating.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete