Probe shows fatal levels of radiation at Fukushima
ONE of Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool its fuel, according to an internal examination that reinforces doubts about the Fukushima plant’s stability.
A tool equipped with a tiny video camera, a thermometer, a dosimeter and a water gauge was used to assess damage inside the No 2 reactor’s containment chamber on Tuesday for the second time since the tsunami swept into the Fukushima Daiichi plant a year ago.
The data revealed yesterday showed the damage is so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment to decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades.
The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse condition. The No 2 reactor is the only one plant workers have been able to examine so far.
The examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to ten times the fatal dose inside the chamber. Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel has breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel.
Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to a dangerously high 70 sieverts an hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, for Tokyo Electric Power. The figure far exceeds the highest level previously detected, 10 sieverts an hour, detected around an exhaust duct last year.
“It’s extremely high,” he said, adding that an endoscope would last only 14 hours in those conditions. The probe also found the containment vessel had cooling water up to only two feet from the bottom, far below the 30ft estimated when the government declared the plant stable in December.
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