Radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan are 18 times higher than previously thought. The operator of the Japanese nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said that the radiation, which measures 1,800 millisieverts an hour, is high enough to kill a person exposed to it for four hours. Tepco is still trying to determine the cause of the radiation spike, but claim in their most recent report that levels inside the tank remain unchanged – which means there has been no leak.

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After a drastic radiation spike near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was confirmed last month, Tepco announced that another storage tank may have leaked 300 tons of radioactive water into the sea. Last week it was confirmed that the severity of the leak rose from level one on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases to level three, which is treated as a “serious incident”.

According to experts, the leakage may have started as early as the March 2011 tsunami accident that killed almost 19,000 people and forced 160,000 others to leave their homes. Findings announced on Sunday reveal that thousands of workers helping to contain the toxic water and prevent additional damages may have been exposed to radiation levels far higher than allowed. According to Tepco, the radiation levels have exceeded the allowed exposure of 50 millisieverts and reached no less than 230 millisieverts at one of the tanks. Measurements at the third storage have shown that the tank was emitting 70 millisieverts an hour.

Tepco admitted that the two workers assigned by the company to check the storage tanks on site were not carrying dosimeters that measure the radiation levels. Additionally, some of the inspections of the tanks were not properly recorded.

So far there have been doubts about the company’s ability to contain the contaminated water, and its handling of the situation has attracted an angry response from local fisherman. The chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Shunichi Tanaka, expressed his concerns about the situation and admitted that the leak can’t be fully stopped at this time. He has announced a pending assessment of the environmental impact of the leak, which has already has already taken a toll on the country’s fishing industry.

+ Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco)

Via The Guardian