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Millions at fatal risk as Fukushima radiation poisons Pacific

Nuclear regulators on Friday called on Japan’s plant operator TEPCO to address rising radiation levels near the crippled Fukushima reactors that have jumped to 7.8 millisieverts, causing a great deal of panic across the Pacific. TEPCO has attributed this rise to radiation emitted from tanks storing contaminated water, which is generated in the process of cooling the damaged reactors. The Voice of Russia has talked to Professor Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk and a member of the UK Department of Health Committee Examining Radiation Risk for Internal Emitters (CERRIE), who says he doesn’t believe this explanation. In his opinion, such high amounts of radiation can only come from materials that are already outside the tanks.

– How dangerous is the current radiation level of 7.8 millisieverts for humans?

– If it were caused by the explanation that TEPCO have given then it would not, in my opinion, represent a very great hazard. But I don’t believe their explanation. I’ve done calculations myself, which show that it’s almost impossible for this kind of dose to occur within a reasonable distance of about 10 meters from the radioactive tanks on the basis of the fact that strontium-90 is inside the tanks. So what I think the 7.8 mSv represent is it represents measurements that are of beta-radiation and gamma-radiation that are coming from materials that are already outside the tanks, and that is basically in the ground. And this is very, very dangerous because it actually represents a contamination of the ground of about 250 becquerelsper square meter. That’s 250,000 disintegrations per second per square meter. And that comes from material that can be inhaled due to resuspension, where it can get into people in various other ways. That represents a very serious hazard.

– According to the operator’s report the radiation level at the Fukushima plant was 8 higher than norm back in August. Isn’t it strange that the Japanese authorities have urged the company to take measures only now?

– This whole procedure has been dogged by arguments between various people in the government and various people in nuclear industry and so on. So I imagine this is just a consequence of a lot of arguments between various sides of the issue and the nuclear industry people and the government people. Eventually, it was the government people who have won. That’s why it has taken them so long for some remark like this to be made. I mean I would guess it’s entirely political, it has nothing to do with reality


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