Japanese radiation cover-up exposed
THE Japanese government is to investigate reports that workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant were urged to rig radiation devices to stay under safety limits.
An executive of the subcontractor Build-Up, working for plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company, allegedly told workers to cover the devices, called dosimeters, with lead when in high-radiation areas.
Dosimeters can be worn as badges or carried as devices about the size of a smartphone. Lead is impenetrable to radioactive particles.
Nine workers wore the lead plates around the devices once after the executive’s plea, public broadcaster NHK said, citing the subcontractor’s president.
Japanese law has set an annual radiation exposure safety threshold of 50 millisieverts for nuclear plant workers during normal operations.
But a massive earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant in March last year led to a breach of containment structures that released radiation, keeping large areas around the plant off limits more than a year later.
A Tokyo Electric Power spokesman said yesterday that the company was aware from a separate contractor that Build-Up made the lead shields, but claimed that they were never used at Fukushima.
Build-Up could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Kansai Electric Power Co said its 1,180-megawatt No 4 reactor at its Ohi nuclear plant resumed supplying electricity to the grid yesterday, making it Japan’s second nuclear plant to regain power since last year’s crisis led to a total shutdown.
The move came three days after the reactor was restarted. It is set to begin full-capacity power generation this week.
Japan ended two months without nuclear power on 5 July, when the Ohi No 3 reactor resumed power output for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that crippled Tokyo Electric’s north-eastern Fukushima nuclear complex.
Japan had mothballed the last of its working reactors in early May, leaving the country without nuclear power for the first time since 1970 and dependent on costly fossil fuels.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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