Although most of us were aware of how dangerous radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have been since the 2011 disaster, the Japanese press is reporting that it has just been “newly-discovered” that radiation levels at the plant are “stunningly high”.
The new readings come from inside reactor two, where the radiation levels are 530 sieverts per hour, according to Tepco, the Tokyo Electric Power Company. That’s highly radioactive— most radiation is measured in thousandths of a sievert, a unit called a millisievert.
One dental X-ray is just .01 millisievert, according to the Guardian— which also pointed out that 10 sieverts can lead to death…
At the end of January, Tepco said that they had taken, from inside reaction two, “intriguing images that may be fuel debris from the March 2011 accident,” but needed to study them more. (They have provided more information of their findings in this PDF.)
These are the highest radiation levels measured since the catastrophe at the now devastated Fukushima power plant.
The radiation levels were so high, even the inspection robot they sent into the damaged Unit 2 reactor to clean a passage under the core for another robot to inspect it could not complete its work and began having camera failures before having to be removed.
The remote-controlled “cleaning” robot being sent into the passage to clean before it had camera failures and had to be removed due to high radiation levels.
During Thursday’s cleaning mission, the robot went only part way into a space under the core that TEPCO wants to inspect closely. It crawled down the passage while peeling debris with a scraper and using water spray to blow some debris away. The dark brown deposits grew thicker and harder to remove as the robot went further.
After about two hours, the two cameras on the robot suddenly developed a lot of noise and their images quickly darkened — a sign of a problem caused by high radiation. Operators of the robot pulled it out of the chamber before completely losing control of it.
These robots are designed to be able to withstand 1,000 Sieverts of radiation. The robot was only able to last two hours at what was supposedly an estimated average of 650 Sieverts in the reactor.
However troubling, TEPCO made sure to claim that, despite the massive new readings and worrisome inability to even get in there with a robot for a couple of hours, there is no radiation leaking outside of the reactor.
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