Nuclear plant radioactivity rate 10 million times normal
WORKERS struggling t o pump contaminated water from Japan’s stricken nuclear complex have fled one of the troubled reactors after reporting radio activity levels 1 0 million time s higher than normal in the reactor’s cooling system.
The numbers were so high that the worker measuring radiation levels withdrew yesterday before taking a second reading.
It was not clear how long workers were exposed to the highly radioactive water or how long the levels had been that high at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
But it came as officials acknowledged there was contaminated water in all four of the complex’s most troubled reactors, and as airborne radiation inside one reactor unit measured four times the limit deemed safe by t he government, Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Takashi Kurita said.
While the discovery and evacuation again delayed efforts to bring the complex under control, a government official insisted the situation had partially stabilised.
‘‘ We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning worse,’’ chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said.
The discovery over the past three days of radioactive water has been a major setback in the mission to get the plant’s crucial cooling systems operating more than two weeks after a 9 . 0 - magnitude quake off Japan’s northeast coast triggered a tsunami that barrelled onshore and disabled the Fukushima plant, complicating an immense humanitarian disaster.
The death toll from the disasters stood at 10,668 yesterday, with more than 16,574 people missing.
Workers have been scrambling to remove the radioactive water from the four units and find a safe place to store it, officials said. Japan’s nuclear safety agency said each unit could have hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water.