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Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said over the weekend that a woman at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been overexposed to radiation, making her the second worker at the plant to be subjected to more than the legal limit.
The new case of radiation overexposure comes as mounting evidence that nuclear regulators and the Japanese government operated in cahoots to cover up several fatal flaws at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which some experts say would have manifested themselves even without the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that cut off all cooling to the plant – the main cause of the ongoing crisis.
As the workers reach their dosage limits and TEPCO’s subcontractors refuse to exceed the 100-millisievert pre-crisis limit, the utility is reportedly attempting to recruit volunteers with high pay to jump in to the plan to help with short repairs requiring only brief exposure to the high radiation at the plant
The nuclear fuel in reactor No 1 is melting with emergency cooling efforts requiring 6 tons of water injected every hour. Radiation being released at the reactor last week were at the highest levels since the disaster began as reported by Bloomberg, with peak levels of more than four times the annual dose allowed for Japanese nuclear workers.
The overcrowded spent nuclear fuel pool at reactor Unit 4 is also suspected to be severely damaged and emergency cooling efforts are failing, said NHK Japanese television over the weekend. This spent fuel pool contains more used reactor fuel than any of the other pools at the complex, with more than 1,500 spent fuel rods.
To make matters worse, the weight of the water being injected into the pool, more than 200 tons, is further compromising the structural integrity of the pool and the containment vessel of reactor said NHK.
In 2000, Sugaoka told Japan’s main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced TEPCO to undertake costly repairs – which it did not.
After officials divulged Sugaoka’s name, blackballing him from the industry, regulators told TEPCO itself to use their own workers to inspect the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.
Regulators then allowed the company to keep operating its reactors for the next two years even though, as an investigation ultimately revealed, its executives had actually hidden other, far more serious problems, including cracks in the shrouds that cover reactor cores.