Entries in Radiation Level (3)


Japanese Officials Raise Nuclear Severity Level to Equal Chernobyl

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Tuesday raised the level of severity at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from 5 to level 7 -- the highest level on the international scale and equal to the Chernobyl accident.

The agency says the level 7 ranking was made because the damaged reactors have been releasing large amounts of radioactive substances, posing a threat to humans and the environment in a much wider area.

Hidehiko Nishiyama with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said the radiation from Fukushima equals about 10 percent of what was released after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.  He added that the Fukushima event is different from Chernobyl, where a nuclear reactor in Ukraine exploded and sent massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.

"In the case of Chernobyl, there were many acute radiation injuries reported, 29 people died and in Fukushima's case we have not seen such a situation arise yet," he said.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has tried to stabilize the nuclear reactor since the magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami damaged the plant last month.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency ranked the severity of the Fukushima situation at level 5 on March 18.

At a news conference Tuesday, Nishiyama said after reviewing the radiation amounts released since the initial assessment of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137 levels, officials decided that the incident should be categorized as a level 7.

The new categorization comes after TEPCO workers at the reactor complex on Tuesday morning extinguished a small fire at a switchbox that contained batteries, according to a news release.

It was unclear whether the blaze was sparked by a 6.3 aftershock that hit about 48 miles offshore from Tokyo Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Nuclear Crisis: Highest Radiation Levels Detected in Seawater

ABC News(TOKYO) -- Radiation levels in the seawater outside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan reached their highest levels yet Wednesday morning.

Nuclear safety officials said the seawater near the plant contains 3,335 times the normal amount of radioactive iodine.

Now, government officials are considering draping special tarps over three of the reactors to contain the radiation.  It's a plan that's never been tried before and is not without risk because officials don't want more pressure to build up.

To assist in containment efforts, the U.S. government is sending radiation-hardened robots to reach areas too dangerous for workers.

Earlier this week, officials acknowledged highly dangerous plutonium was found in soil near the reactors.

Increased levels of radiation have also been detected in tap water and vegetables.

Meanwhile, Masataka Shimizu, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company that operates the plant, has been hospitalized with hypertension, according to TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks and criticism the company has faced after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the reactor's cooling system on March 11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Power Company Makes Error in Radiation Reading

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A Japanese power company on Sunday found itself apologizing for the second time in two days, with the latest apology coming as a result of a mistake in a report about radiation levels at a nuclear plant.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it made a mistake when it reported that radiation levels at the plant were 10 million times higher than normal, causing an evacuation of the site. Extremely high radiation levels were reported Sunday, but just a few hours later the same day, TEPCO officials said the radiation level number was not credible and that the company was very sorry for their mistake.

The overstated levels were from a reading done at reactor 2 at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant. According to published reports, the worker who performed the reading evacuated the plant before a second reading could be taken.

On Saturday TEPCO issued an apology for not giving its employees proper warning about the degree of radiation risk they faced at the plant, after two workers suffered radiation burns from water that was 10,000 times more radioactive than normal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio