Mistermix’s frequent discussions of Fukishima have caused me to search for news every day, and it seems that every day the news gets worse:
The amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan’s nuclear safety agency has said.
The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant, where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than government officials have acknowledged.
In another development that is expected to add to criticism of Japan’s handling of the crisis, the agency said molten nuclear fuel dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel in the No 1 reactor within five hours of the accident, 10 hours earlier than previously thought.
By the end of last week, radiation levels inside the reactor had risen to 4,000 millisieverts per hour, the highest atmospheric reading inside the plant since the disaster.
The agency also speculated that the meltdown in another reactor had been faster than initially estimated by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco).
It is not clear whether the revised account of the accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl in 1986, would have prompted Tepco to respond differently at the time.
But it is expected to raise questions about the ability of Japan’s nuclear authorities to provide accurate information to the public.
According to the latest estimates, 770,000 terabequerels – about 20% as much as the official estimate for Chernobyl – of radiation seeped from the plant in the week after the tsunami, more than double the initial estimate of 370,000.
Japan will never be the same.