Fukushima Nuclear Plant Workers Reportedly Exposed to Radiation

Image: Fukushima Nuclear Plant Workers Reportedly Exposed to Radiation

Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 09:09 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The Fukushima nightmare continues after it was reported Monday that 10 workers at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were exposed to small amounts of radiation while conducting recent cleanup activities.

At the moment it is unclear how the workers were contaminated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Monday, though Tokyo Electric Power Co. – the plant's operator, suggests it might have been due to radioactive dust, the Associated Press reported.

The radiation was reportedly found in small amounts on the workers' faces and hair.

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Japan's city of Fukushima, as well as the surrounding area of Fukushima Prefecture, was hit with two sizeable earthquakes and a tsunami in the spring of 2011.

The first natural disaster came on March 11 when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the entire Tōhoku region, in which Fukushima is located. The second quake, that reportedly had a magnitude of 7.1, hit Fukushima one month later on April 11, causing further significant damage to the city's infrastructure.

The March 11 disaster triggered a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

The incident at the nuclear power plant was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the International Business Times reported.

No one was killed by the radiation release, however approximately 18,500 people died or went missing as a result of March 2011's joint earthquake and tsunami. Far fewer died in the Fukushima earthquake that occurred one month later.

The contamination is the latest complication to arise as part of the cleanup of the Dai-Ichi plant, Bloomberg News reported, noting that last week Japanese government officials acknowledged that at least 300 tons of radiated water was flowing from the plant into the ocean each day.

Cumulatively, some 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium has likely leaked into the sea since the disaster, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

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It was not immediately clear how much of a threat the contaminated groundwater could pose. In the early weeks of the disaster, the Japanese government allowed Tokyo Electric Power Co. to dump tens of thousands of metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency move.

The toxic water release was however heavily criticized by neighboring countries as well as local fishermen and the utility has since promised it would not dump irradiated water without the consent of local townships.

Related stories:

Fukushima Steam: Rain Leaking Into Crippled Reactor May Be Cause

Ex-Fukushima Chief, Disaster 'Hero,' Dead at 58

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