Sunday 17 November 2019

Nuclear team expect to die from radiation

Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo

WORKERS who have been fighting to bring the reactors under control at Japan's stricken nuclear plant expect to die from radiation sickness, according to the mother of one of the men.

The so-called Fukushima 50, the group of about 300 technicians, soldiers and firemen who work in shifts of 50, have been exposed repeatedly to dangerously high radioactive levels as they attempt to avert a nuclear disaster.

The mother of one man has admitted that the group have discussed their situation and accepted that death is a strong possibility.

"My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary in the long term," she said.

Japan was continuing its struggle yesterday to regain control over crucial cooling systems at four damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Fears over potential leaks from the plant in north-eastern Japan escalated after radioactive iodine was found in nearby seawater that is 4,385 times the legal limit.

Radioactive contamination in groundwater underneath reactor No 2 has been measured at 10,000 times the government health standard. An abnormal level of radioactive caesium has also been found in beef from the area.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said radioactivity safety limits had been exceeded as far as 25 miles away and urged the government to re-examine its exclusion zone. Spot tests conducted by the watchdog at Iitate village, 25 miles north-west of Fukushima, showed readings twice as high as levels at which the agency recommends evacuation.


But Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister, said there were no plans to extend the zone from the current 12 miles, which affects 70,000 residents.

There is a further "stay indoors" policy for another 130,000 people who live up to 19 miles away.

Japan has asked trading partners at the World Trade Organisation not to "over-react" by unnecessarily restricting the import of food produce. A growing number of international food companies are shunning Japanese products despite government assurances of safety.

Nearly three weeks have passed since the disaster, in which 27,000 were killed or are missing, 250,000 were left homeless and critical damage was caused to the Fukushima plant.

Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that the world needed international safety standards on nuclear power by the end of the year, as fears surrounding the extent of radiation leaks in Japan continued to grow.

The French president, making the first trip by a foreign leader to Japan since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, said he would call a meeting of the G20's nuclear power watchdogs to discuss safety regulations.

"We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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