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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"Emergency Radiation Exposure Limit May Be Raised"

Japan's nuclear watchdog is considering raising the radiation exposure maximum limit for nuclear plant workers for serious accidents.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told at the body's regular meeting on Wednesday that the possibility of a nuclear accident, where workers could be exposed to radiation beyond the current legal accumulative limit of 100 millisieverts, cannot be denied. His proposal to study raising the limit was approved at the meeting.

The authority will decide on the level by referring to overseas standards. It will also confer on how to get prior consent from workers and train them for such cases. If a legal amendment is necessary, it plans to send its findings to a relevant government panel for deliberations.

When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by meltdowns in 2011, many workers were exposed to radiation above the legal limit. As an extraordinary measure, the government had to raise the limit to 250 millisieverts, for 9 months, 3 days after the onset of the accident.

An official of Tokyo Occupational Safety & Health Center said the move is one step in progress. He warned, however, that workers' health risks and how to manage their health should fully be debated before deciding on the specific level.

He said the authority should carefully study the matter by conducting hearings on workers who were involved in the Fukushima disaster.

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