Monday, May 30, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 2 TEPCO Workers Exceeded 250 Millisieverts Radiation Limit Mostly from INTERNAL Radiation Exposure

From Mainichi Shinbun English (5/30/2011; emphasis added):

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees working at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have been exposed to radiation exceeding the ultimate limit of 250 millisieverts, but no health problems have so far been reported, the company and the government said Monday.

The two men, who are in their 30s and 40s and have been at the plant from the time the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the crisis, may have been cumulatively exposed to several hundred millisieverts, a company official said, while adding that they are "not at a stage that would require emergency medical treatment."

The two workers have been involved in dealing with the plant's Nos. 3 and 4 reactors. At a measurement on May 23, their thyroid glands were found to have absorbed 7,690 and 9,760 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131, respectively, 10 times higher than data on other workers.

The external exposure levels of the two workers were between 74 and 89 millisieverts, the plant operator known as TEPCO said.

The two have worked at the plant's reactor control room, a building where the headquarters to deal with the crisis is located, and outside on the premises. They ingested stable iodine on March 13 to prevent radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid and increasing the risk of thyroid cancer.

TEPCO said it plans to check some 150 other workers who have engaged in similar work.

(The article continues.)

Well, what the article doesn't say (but it is mentioned in the Mainichi's Japanese articles) is that the two workers stopped taking potassium iodide pills after March 13. No reason is given. The Japanese articles also say that the high level of iodine-131 was detected from the urine of the workers.

These workers were not even working among highly radioactive debris outside or inside the turbine buildings or reactor buildings with high air radiation. They were working in the central control rooms for the Reactors 3 and 4, although the English article above makes it sound as if they were also working outside.

Did TEPCO have enough potassium iodide pills for the workers to begin with? Or the Japanese government?

The CBS News article back in March 16 alleges that the Japanese government had only 230,000 doses of potassium iodide when the Fukushima crisis started, and as of March 16 it hadn't yet asked other countries who had abundant supplies "at least not publicly". (h/t anon reader of my Japanese blog)

As far as the Japanese government went, it chose to hide the simulation data from the public that predicted the very high organ dose of iodine-131 over a surprisingly wide area rather than admitting the radiation problem and the lack of potassium iodide.


Anonymous said...

So given the extended timescales, I suppose they will need to burn through more workers… sadly.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez

If they start counting the internal dose I think they will come to find they have probably burned up a good portion of their 250mSv "limit" in most of their bio-robots. I think this would be accelerated if they are eating contaminated food in a contaminated environment. Even if they have special clean rooms to eat in it can be hard to control contamination transport and I doubt they have special eating quarters. Eating drinking and smoking are all very bad things to do in a radioactively contaminated environment.

I figured they would only count external dose and call it good. The next phase will be to certify that "some" of the workers are "OK" and step up the dose limit to 500 mSv. I'm pretty sure I've read the IAEA has suggested a 1000 mSv exposure level isn't out of the question.

I wonder if the 150 people includes all the police and military who were first responders? It wouldn't be unusual if it didn't the US ignored the health of a lot of the 9/11 first responders.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

Hey. I found an article that claims the Japanese nuclear industry doesn't just buy the media they also buy the towns where they site their reactors.

"Tokyo has been able to essentially buy the support, or at least the silent acquiescence, of communities by showering them with generous subsidies, payouts and jobs. In 2009 alone, Tokyo gave $1.15 billion for public works projects to communities that have electric plants, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Experts say the majority of that money goes to communities near nuclear plants."

"Code of Silence

Indeed, a code of silence seems to prevail even now in towns like Kashima, which merged with the neighboring city of Matsue a half decade ago.

Tsuneyoshi Adachi, a 63-year-old fisherman, joined the huge protests in the 1970s and 1980s against the plant's No. 2 reactor. He said many fishermen were angry then because chlorine from the pumps of the plant's No. 1 reactor, which began operating in 1974, was killing seaweed and fish in local fishing grounds.

However, Mr. Adachi said, once compensation payments from the No. 2 reactor began to flow in, neighbors began to give him cold looks and then ignore him. By the time the No. 3 reactor was proposed in the early 1990s, no one, including Mr. Adachi, was willing to speak out against the plant. He said that there was the same peer pressure even after the accident at Fukushima, which scared many here because they live within a few miles of the Shimane plant".

Home Inspector Expert said...

The use of remote controlled machinery is believed to have caused an oxygen cylinder to explode near reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The explosion occurred outside of the building that houses reactors at the facility and did not change conditions at the site, the company said.
Workers reported the explosion at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday local time in Japan. TEPCO said workers were using unmanned heavy machinery to remove debris at the site when the machinery damaged the cylinder, causing it to burst. There were no changes in radiation levels within the plant site and no injuries were reported.

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