Δευτέρα, 28 Μαρτίου 2011

Disaster-hit Japan faces protracted nuclear crisis



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also >>Letters from Fukushima ..The Heroes of Japan ..
http://garizo.blogspot.com/2011/03/letters-from-fukushima-heros-of-japan.html
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(Reuters) - Japan appeared resigned on Monday to a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous atomic crisis in 25 years after high radiation levels complicated work at its crippled nuclear plant.Engineers have been battling to control the six-reactor Fukushima complex since it was damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that also left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across Japan's devastated northeast.A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the region on Monday, the latest in a series of aftershocks, and officials warned it would trigger a 50-cm (two feet) tsunami wave.Radiation at the nuclear plant has soared in recent days. Latest readings on Sunday showed contamination 100,000 times normal in water at reactor No. 2 and 1,850 times normal in the nearby sea.
Those were the most alarming levels since the crisis began.
"I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we were led to believe," said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to stabilize the situation and the United Nations should step in."This is far beyond what one nation can handle - it needs to be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council. In my humble opinion, this is more important than the Libya no fly zone." Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown. "Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over)," TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.
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Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator, said the elevated radiation levels in the water, which had flooded the turbine buildings adjacent to the reactors at the plant, were at least four times the permissible exposure levels for workers at the plant and 100,000 times more than water ordinarily found at a nuclear facility.That could mean crews seeking to determine damage and fix the problems at the plant, hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami more than two weeks ago, may not be able to approach some of the most troubled parts of the complex until the water can be safely removed.Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University, said that at the sharply elevated levels of radiation, workers would be able to remain on the site for only about 15 minutes before health considerations required them to leave. That could compromise attempts to bring the crisis under control.

Alarm over the radiation levels first intensified Thursday when two workers were burned after they stepped into highly radioactive water inside reactor No. 3 of the plant. Late Saturday, a worker trying to measure radiation levels of the water at another reactor, No. 2, saw the reading on his dosimeter jump beyond 1,000 millisieverts per hour, the highest reading on the device. The worker left the scene immediately, said Takeo Iwamoto, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power.Michiaki Furukawa, a nuclear chemist and a board member of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based watchdog group, said exposure to 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour would induce nausea and vomiting, while exposure to triple that amount could be lethal.There was no evacuation of the roughly 1,000 workers stationed at Daiichi after the high radiation levels were discovered. Naoki Sunoda, another spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power, said that since the crisis began, 19 workers had been exposed to radiation levels of 100 millisieverts.

Despite the new problem, Mr. Sunoda said, workers on Monday were still trying to determine a way to approach the turbine building of reactor No. 2 to extract the contaminated water.

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