Japan says high radiation reading at reactor was wrong

Tokyo Electric vice-president apologizes for very high reading which led to evacuation of workers at crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

By REUTERS
March 27, 2011 18:23
1 minute read.
Evacuee from Fukushima tested for radiation

Japan Radiation Test 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said on Monday a very high radiation reading that had sent workers fleeing the No. 2 reactor was erroneous.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) vice-president Sakae Muto apologized for Sunday's error, which added to alarm inside and outside Japan over the impact of contamination from the complex which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

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Radiation in the water was a still worrying 100,000 times higher than normal, rather than 10 million times higher as originally stated, Muto said.

"I am very sorry...I would like to make sure that such a mistake will not happen again," he added.

His announcement came after Japanese authorities evacuated workers on earlier on Sunday from a reactor building they were working in after radiation in water at the crippled nuclear power plant reached potentially lethal levels, the plant's operator said.

Japanese nuclear regulators said the water contained 10 million times the amount of radioactive iodine than is normal in the reactor, but noted the substance had a half life of less than an hour, meaning it would disappear within a day.

A Tokyo Electric official said workers were evacuated from the No. 2 reactor's turbine housing unit to prevent them from being exposed to harmful doses of radiation. They had been trying to pump radioactive water out of the power station after it was found in buildings housing three of the six reactors.

Tokyo Electric engineers have struggled the past two weeks to prevent a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, after an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami knocked out the backup power system needed to cool the reactors.

The work has had to be suspended several times due to explosions and spiking radiation levels inside the reactors, in a crisis that has become the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago.




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