Radiation in the water inside Fukushima reactor hits record level

The water used for cooling the Fukushima reactors is reported to now have a radiation level 10,000,000 times in excess of the admissible maximum. Leaking into the ocean, it is steadily increasing the coastal seawater radiation level.

­The level of radiation in the water of the turbine room in Unit 2 of the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant now exceeds the admissible maximum by 10 million times, Tokyo Electric Power announced on Sunday. The personnel at Unit 2 have been evacuated.

Earlier on Sunday, measurements of radioactive iodine in the coastal seawater near the plant had been reported to have risen to 1,850 times the normal level, in comparison with Saturday’s levels measured at 1,250.

Hideiko Nishiyama, an official from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said that the rise had been caused by a radioactive water leak from the inside the reactor, Kyodo news reported on Saturday. He also added that ocean currents will help disperse the radiation particles and the impact on marine life and seafood should be minimal.

On Saturday Japan’s top government spokesman Yukio Edano said it is difficult to predict when the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant would end, but clearly “an enormous amount of work” has yet to be done before the situation will settle down.

Shaun Burnie, an independent nuclear energy consultant, is concerned that besides the isotopes with relatively a short half life, like iodine-131 detected in the sea tap water in Tokyo, longer living isotopes might be released from the reactor.

“We’ve heard of cesium-137, that’s around 30 years before it loses half of it’s radioactivity. It is a huge problem in terms of long-term cancer risk,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is no safe level of artificial radiation in terms of its risk to humans if exposed to that radiation.”

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