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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Nuclear regulator raps TEPCO over Fukushima radiation readings

Japan’s nuclear regulator has criticized the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.
Almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) still lacks basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said on Wednesday. The utility has been widely criticized for an inept response to the March 2011 disaster.
TEPCO said last week that groundwater drawn from a monitoring well last July contained a record 5 million becquerels per liter of dangerous radioactive strontium-90 - more than five times the total beta radiation reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter recorded in the well, which is around 25 meters from the ocean.
TEPCO said there was a calibration mistake with one machine measuring strontium levels of well water at the plant, and it had also found an error with devices that decipher all-beta radiation.
“Something like this cannot happen ... This (data) is what becomes the basis of various decisions, so they must do their utmost to avoid mistakes in measuring radiation,” Tanaka told reporters, though he added the mistake did not pose a serious safety risk at the plant.
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