News / Asia

Japanese Workers Hospitalized for Excessive Radiation Exposure

Medical staff arrive at Fukushima Medical University Hospital to treat radiation exposed workers from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima City, Japan, March 24, 2011.
Medical staff arrive at Fukushima Medical University Hospital to treat radiation exposed workers from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima City, Japan, March 24, 2011.

Two workers at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant have been hospitalized for radiation exposure suffered on Thursday.

They are among those frantically trying to get critical cooling functions restored to damaged reactors and fuel ponds.

Radiation also continues to be detected above normal levels as far as 300 kilometers south of the facility, which was knocked out of commission by a huge quake and tsunami nearly two weeks ago.

Excessive radiation exposure

The hospitalized workers were exposed to excessive radiation exposure following an accident Thursday.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano told reporters that two of three men working together in the damaged Number 3 reactor's turbine building slipped into water and did not realize they had been exposed to high levels of radiation until they noticed a rash on their skin.

The two are said to be suffering from beta ray burns.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Vice President Sakae Muto says the men were underground laying cable critical to restarting the cooling system for the reactor, which contains a mix of plutonium and uranium fuel.

All three workers were exposed to between 170 and 180 milliseverts of radiation, said Muto. That is less than the maximum of 250 millisieverts for workers at the plant that has been set by the government. About 25 people injured at the nuclear plant since it began leaking radiation following damage on March 11 from the quake-triggered tsunami.

Crucial repair work continues

Emergency repair work resumed at the plant on Thursday, after a break the previous day when black smoke was again seen at the Number 3 reactor.

Video taken from a helicopter Thursday morning shows what appears to be steam rising from four of the nuclear facility's six reactor buildings. Authorities said the situation was not serious enough to continue a halt in the critical work to prevent a potentially larger catastrophe.

If water is not replenished to pools, exposed used fuel could release significant amounts of radioactive substances.

New worries emerge

There is also fresh concern about the damaged Number 1 reactor, where pressure inside the reactor again increased. Crews are trying to maintain a delicate balance between spraying water on the radioactive fuel, which causes a rise in pressure, and reducing the water flow which could see temperatures increase to a dangerously high level.

Since the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which triggered a destructive tsunami, the nuclear power complex has experienced many serious problems.  These include hydrogen explosions in reactor buildings, radiation leaks, exposed and overheating fuel rods, damage reactor cores and shaking from powerful aftershocks.

Radiation continues to be detected in the surrounding air, soil and sea water.

James Symons, the director of the nuclear science division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, says at this stage, the Fukushima disaster has more in common with the 1979 Three Mile Island partial meltdown in the United States than the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in Ukraine.

"All these things are different. But it's closer. It's certainly very unlike what happened at Chernobyl, where the entire reactor exploded, basically," he said. "It's certainly very serious, but - as far as we can tell - it's also coming under control."

Japan's government says the detection of radioactive neutron beams 15 times near the plant following the destruction by the tsunami were natural events and there is no evidence any uranium and plutonium leaked from reactors.

A government spokesman in Tokyo, as well as Symons at the laboratory in Berkeley, both reject assertions by some overseas in the industry that a critical nuclear reaction from a reactor or spent fuel rods likely emitted the neutron beams.

Zone warnings expanded



Japan's government is now advising people beyond the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant to remain indoors. Officials say that, since the explosions, some infants theoretically may have accumulated 100 millisieverts of radiation in their thyroids.

Some scientists say those exposed to that total radiation dose should take potassium iodide, because an annual dose above 100 millisieverts is believed to be associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Japan's science ministry says radiation levels detected in Tokyo have tripled, compared to those detected earlier in the week.

The Tokyo metropolitan government, and the governments in the adjacent prefectures of Chiba and Saitama, has announced levels of radioactive iodine considered unsafe for infants were detected this week in tap water, sparking panic- buying of bottled water.

Vegetable shipments have been stopped out of areas adjacent to the nuclear power plant after some leafy greens were found to be contaminated with levels of radioactive iodine and cesium exceeding government standards.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More