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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs