8 February 2014, 18:46

Fukushima kids cancer cases surge amid record radiation levels, new leaks

Fukushima kids cancer cases surge amid record radiation levels, new leaks

Eight more children in Fukushima have developed thyroid gland cancer in addition to previous 75 suspected cases discovered during the prefecture-led checkups, a local panel of experts said on Friday. The screening of Fukushima residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear disaster kicked off in October 2011 - half a year after a tsunami triggered by an earthquake hit Japan’s coast. About 270,000 teenagers have been examined since.

Many people are seriously concerned that a continuous increase in the number of thyroid cancer cases was caused by the exposure to radiation from the crippled nuclear plant, while the panel of doctors and other medical experts say they are not sure there is a link to the meltdown calamity.

Meanwhile, a new leakage of highly radioactive water from one of the damaged reactors has been detected inside Unit 3 Reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant. There's been no leakage to the outside of the building, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) which is in charge of the decommissioning work, announced.

On Saturday, one of the workers monitoring robots removing debris on the first floor of Unit 3 Reactor found that water was leaking to the drainage ditch in the northeast area of the first floor. TEPCO promised it would investigate into the cause of the leakage without interrupting the decommissioning work.

Besides, the operator has revised the radioactivity levels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant up to 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter which is a record and almost five times higher than the original reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter, detected in the water sampled last July.

On Friday, the company announced that the previous radiation levels had been wrong and apologized for the failures caused by malfunctioning measuring equipment.

However, the wrong readings only pertain to the radioactivity levels measured in water and those relating to radiation levels in air or soil are likely to have been accurate, according to TEPCO.

The 2011 tsunami caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Since then, leakage of radiation-contaminated water has posed a major threat to Japan’s population and environment, and to the international community.

By early January, the levels of nuclear radiation around Fukushima’s No. 1 plant rose to 8 millisieverts per year, surpassing the government standard of 1 milliseviert per year, TEPCO announced.

In mid-January, a record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 (a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years) was detected beneath the No. 2 reactor's well facing the ocean.

TEPCO hopes to solve the problem by freezing the ground around the reactors so that no groundwater can pass through it.

Voice of Russia, japantimes.co.jp, agoracosmopolitan.com, RT

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