News Broadcasting in Tokyo, As of 17:30, 31/May

Japan Update: As of 17:30, 31/May, TOKYO


Exposure of Tepco pair exceeds limit

Cumulative dose of workers over new crisis cap of 250 millisieverts


Two Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees working at the stricken F**ushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have been exposed beyond the 250-millisievert limit set for the crisis, Tepco and the government said Monday.

The two men, one in his 30s and the other in his 40s, have been at the plant since the March 11 disasters triggered the crisis. Both may have a cumulative exposure of several hundred millisieverts, a company official said, while adding the two are "not at a stage that would require emergency medical treatment."

To cope with the country's worst nuclear plant crisis, the government raised the legal limit on the amount of radiation a worker can be exposed to in emergencies to 250 milliseiverts from 100 millisieverts.

The National Institute of Radiological Sciences is expected to conduct a detailed assessment of the workers' internal exposure to determine their total exposure, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The two workers were involved in work at reactors 3 and 4. In a measurement on May 23, their thyroid glands were found to have absorbed 7,690 and 9,760 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131, respectively, 10 times more than other workers.

Their external exposure levels were between 74 and 89 millisieverts, Tepco said.

The two were working in the plant's reactor control room, a building where the headquarters for the crisis is located, and outside in the compound.

They ingested stable iodine on March 13 to prevent radioactive iodine from accumulating in their thyroids and increasing their risk of thyroid cancer.

Tepco said it plans to check some 150 other workers who were engaged in similar work.

The utility is meanwhile coming to believe that it will be impossible to stabilize the crisis by the end of the year, senior company officials said Sunday. This could effect the evacuees' chances of returning to their homes near the plant.

The recent confirmation that meltdowns had occurred in reactors 1 to 3 and probably breached the pressure vessels encasing the fuel, have led officials to believe "there will be a major delay to work" to contain the situation, one of them said, adding that they will try to close the breaches.

Tepco announced April 17 that its time line for bringing the troubled reactors into cold shutdown was six to nine months.

News Source: Kyodo

Heavy rains trigger tsunami-zone landslide alert

When it rains: A Self-Defense Forces vehicle plows through a flooded road amid a mountain of debris from

the March 11 earthquake and tsunami Monday in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. KYODO PHOTO

Heavy rain caused by the remains of Typhoon Songda posed multiple landslide threats Monday in areas hit by the March 11 disasters, prompting local authorities to go on alert.

Several areas had already been flooded by the morning and dozens of cars were trapped on overflowing roads in Sendai's Wakabayashi Ward and in the nearby city of Iwanuma, both in Miyagi Prefecture.

The ground in some areas sank several centimeters during the massive quake, which shifted the island's position in the Pacific Ocean. This made many areas vulnerable for the first time to high tides and heavy rain.

Shortly after 9 a.m., a blackout struck the disaster-hit town of Minamisanriku, Iwate Prefecture, where many people are still living in emergency shelters at schools.

"After the lights went out, I was horrified by my memory of the March disaster," said Yasuko Saijo, 77, who is living in one of the shelters in town.

She said her home in the coastal area has been persistently flooded by seawater since the magnitude 9 earthquake. "Heavy rain this time may further damage my home," she said.

East Japan Railway Co. suspended train services on the Tohoku Line between F**ushima and Ichinoseki stations in Iwate Prefecture, while the Joban Line between Watari and Iwanuma, both in Miyagi, was suspended for safety reasons.

In addition, at least one bullet train run was canceled as of Monday morning on the Akita Shinkansen Line, JR East said.

The typhoon had weakened into a tropical storm off Shikoku on Sunday afternoon, but the Meteorological Agency warned that it could still cause downpours and strong winds across the country through Monday.

Winds as strong as 118 kph were observed in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, the agency said.

Ishinomaki and other coastal areas along the Pacific will see full tides between Tuesday and June 7, the agency said, warning of floods on a mass scale coupling with heavy rain.

The storm was moving toward waters off eastern Japan, activating the front hovering over the Tohoku region, especially on the tsunami-ravaged Pacific side, the agency said.


News Source: Japan Times


Oil found leaking near sea close to crippled F**ushima nuke plant

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Oil has been found leaking into the sea near the crisis-hit F**ushima nuclear power plant, possibly from nearby oil tanks that may have been damaged in the March earthquake and tsunami, the plant operator said Tuesday, adding that it will set up oil fences to prevent the liquid from spreading into the Pacific Ocean.

The oil slick was found at 8 a.m. by Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers who were patrolling the premises of the plant on the Pacific coast, and is believed to be spreading at a 200-300 meter range inside breakwaters.

As the leakage appears to have remained inside the breakwaters, the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said that the impact on areas outside the breakwaters is likely to be "extremely limited" so far.

Tokyo Electric suspects that the oil may have leaked from tanks located near the water intake for the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors or pipes that deliver the oil, because the March 11 disaster took place when a tanker was supplying oil. One of the tanks was moved from its original location because of the tsunami.

The tanks, each with a 960-kiloliter capacity, are believed to have had some heavy oil inside, but it is unknown exactly how much.

Nishiyama said that workers did not notice any oil leakage during their patrol at around 5 p.m. Monday, after northeastern Japan saw bad weather.

While workers at the plant continue to struggle to contain the ongoing nuclear crisis, it was found Tuesday that the head of a government taskforce on the F**ushima disaster has been absent since May 19 because of illness.

The head, senior vice industry minister Motohisa Ikeda, has been hospitalized, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda told a parliamentary committee.

A senior bureaucrat of the nuclear safety agency is serving as the acting chief, but the government had not announced the fact.


News Source: Kyodo

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