Thursday, March 24, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: More on Reactor 3 Radiation

From Kyodo News English (emphasis added; 3/25/2011):

3 nuke workers exposed to high radiation, 2 sustain possible burns

Three workers were exposed to high-level radiation Thursday while laying cable at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and two of them were taken to hospital due to possible radiation burns to their feet, the nuclear safety agency and the plant operator said.

The three men in their 20s and 30s were exposed to radiation amounting to 173 to 180 millisieverts while laying cable underground at the No. 3 reactor's turbine building. Exposure to 100 millisieverts is the limit for nuclear plant workers dealing with a crisis but the limit has been raised to 250 millisieverts for the ongoing crisis, the worst in Japan.

The two hospitalized are workers of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s subcontractors and had their feet under water while carrying out the work from 10 a.m., according to the utility known as TEPCO and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The two, who were diagnosed with possible beta ray burns at a Fukushima hospital, will be sent to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba Prefecture by early Friday and will stay there for about four days, the agency said.

As the workers had stepped in a 15-centimeter-deep puddle, radioactive water may have seeped through their radiation protective gear, causing radioactive materials in the water to stick to their skin, TEPCO said, adding that the burns are caused by direct exposure to beta rays.

The technicians were wearing nonwoven protective suits of U.S. chemical firm DuPont Co.'s Tyvek brand, full-face masks and rubber gloves, but the two later hospitalized were not wearing boots, letting radioactive water in their shoes, according to the utility and the agency.

Radiation at the surface of the puddle stood at 400 millisieverts per hour, while the amount in the air reached 200 millisieverts per hour.

TEPCO said Wednesday there was no puddle at the site and the radiation level was just around a few millisieverts per hour. The workers did not measure the radiation amount before starting the cable-laying work on Thursday, it said.

But wait, there's more. Kyodo News Japanese must have had more information that they do not have in the English version, as reported by Tokyo Shinbun quoting Kyodo (in Japanese, emphasis added; 9:14AM JST 3/25/2011):

TEPCO analyzed the water in the basement of the turbine building, and found the concentration of radioactive materials was 3.9 million becquerels. Normally, the concentration of radioactive materials in the cooling water inside the reactor is a few hundred becquerels. In addition, iodine-131 and cesium-137 were also found in high concentration; they are rarely found in the cooling water inside the reactor [under normal operating condition].


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