Geiger counters, used to detect radioactivity, registered more than 10 sieverts an hour, the highest reading the devices are able to record, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility, said today. The measurements were taken at the base of the main ventilation stack for reactors No. 1 and No. 2.
The Fukushima plant, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of Tokyo, had three reactor meltdowns after the March 11 magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and backup generators. Radiation leaks displaced 160,000 people and contaminated marine life and agricultural products.
The utility, known as Tepco, tried to vent steam and gas the day after the earthquake as pressure in reactor No. 1 exceeded designed limits. A buildup of hydrogen gas subsequently caused an explosion that blew out part of the reactor building.
“I suspect the high radiation quantity was an aftermath of venting done,” Matsumoto told reporters in Tokyo. “The plant is not running. I don’t think any gas with high radiation level is flowing in the stack.”
Tepco sent three workers around the ventilation stack today after a gamma camera detected high radioactivity levels in the area yesterday, Matsumoto said. The workers were exposed to as much as 4 millisieverts during the work, he said.
The utility will create a no-go zone around the stack and cover the area with protective material, he said.
The truth likely is much uglier: this is simply the highest reading the devices are able to record. In other words, there does not exist a device that can capture the true extent of the catastrophe at Fukushima!
At least with Chernobyl, 5 months after the explosion it was pretty much well-known what the damage really is. In Japan, however, the ongoing attempt to hide everything from the general population, many of whom will pay for their government’s lies with their lives, means that reality will only gradually be comprehended. By the time all is said and done, Japan’s demographics will be far, far worse than even today. But who cares: that will be some other administration’s (and unborn generation’s) problem.