Ra­di­a­tion concern spreads

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

HIGHLY ra­dioac­tive io­dine seep­ing from Ja­pan’s dam­aged nu­clear com­plex may be mak­ing its way i nto sea­wa­ter far­ther north of the plant than pre­vi­ously thought, adding to ra­di­a­tion con­cerns as the cri­sis stretches into a third week.

Mount­ing prob­lems, i nclud­ing badly mis­cal­cu­lated ra­di­a­tion fig­ures and no place to store dan­ger­ously con­tam­i­nated wa­ter, have stymied emer­gency work­ers strug­gling to cool down the over­heat­ing plant and avert a disas­ter with global im­pli­ca­tions.

The coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, lo­cated 220km north­east of Tokyo, has been leak­ing ra­di­a­tion since a mag­ni­tude-9.0 quake on March 11 trig­gered a tsunami that en­gulfed the com­plex.

The wave knocked out power to the sys­tem that cools the dan­ger­ously hot nu­clear fuel rods.

Yes­ter­day, work­ers re­sumed the la­bo­ri­ous yet ur­gent task of pump­ing out the hun­dreds of tons of ra­dioac­tive wa­ter in­side sev­eral build­ings at the six-unit plant.

The wa­ter must be re­moved and safely stored be­fore work can con­tinue to power up the plant’s cool­ing sys­tem, nu­clear safety of­fi­cials said.

The con­tam­i­nated wa­ter, dis­cov­ered last Thurs­day, has been emit­ting ra­di­a­tion that mea­sured more than 1000 mil­lisiev­erts per hour in a re­cent read­ing at Unit 2 – some 100,000 times nor­mal a mounts, plant op­er­a­tor Tokyo Elec­tric Power Co. said.

As of­fi­cials scram­bled to de­ter­mine the source of the ra­dioac­tive wa­ter, c hi e f Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Yukio Edano re­peated yes­ter­day the con­tam­i­nated wa­ter in Unit 2 ap­peared to be due to a tem­po­rary par­tial melt­down of the re­ac­tor core.

He called it ‘‘ very un­for­tu­nate’’ but said the spike in ra­di­a­tion ap­peared lim­ited to the unit.

How­ever, new read­ings show con­tam­i­na­tion in the ocean has spread about 1.6km far­ther north of the nu­clear site than be­fore.

Mean­while, a strong earth­quake shook the re­gion and prompted a brief tsunami alert early yes­ter­day, adding to the sense of un­ease across Ja­pan. The quake off the bat­tered Miyagi pre­fec­ture coast in the north­east mea­sured mag­ni­tude-6.5.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.