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Tokyo - Japanese authorities pumped water into a damaged nuclear reactor over the weekend to contain high radiation, news reports said Monday. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which runs the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, started Sunday to pour water into a pool on the top floor of reactor 4 of the six-reactor plant after it discovered the water level had dropped to about one-third of its capacity, public broadcaster NHK reported. The drop caused equipment in the pool to be exposed, releasing high levels of radiation, officials said.
The plant has been leaking radioactive substances since it was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The radiation levels at reactor 4 have been preventing workers from entering the structure to conduct repairs. TEPCO also began late Sunday to release air containing radioactive substances from the building of reactor 2 by opening its doors.
An estimated 1.6 billion becquerels of radioactive materials were released, compared with 500 million becquerels when the double doors of the building of reactor 1 were opened in May, the Jiji Press agency reported, citing TEPCO.
The operator denied that the releases would have an impact on the environment.
The move was aimed at lowering the 99-per-cent humidity inside the reactors, which was further hindering repair work.
Here is an article which answers that question. Actually we have evolved to deal with background radiation. But we haven't evolved to deal with inhaling a lot of "hot particles" suspended in the air which is quite different than what we get from background radiation.
Originally posted by Sarahko
Excuse my ignorance - could you explain what the safe limits are?
What are the safe and dangerous ranges?
So if 4 million people each get 1 mrem of extra radiation, one will die. If 4 million people each get 2 mrem of extra radiation, two will die, and so on.
How dangerous is 1 mrem of radiation? The answer can be given in quantitative terms, with some qualifications to be discussed later, but in most situations, for each millirem of radiation we receive, our risk of dying from cancer is increased by about 1 chance in 4 million. ...
This risk corresponds to a reduction in our life expectancy by 2 minutes. A similar reduction in our life expectancy is caused by13
* crossing streets 5 times (based on the average probability of being killed while crossing a street)
* taking a few puffs on a cigarette (each cigarette smoked reduces life expectancy by l0 minutes)
* an overweight person eating 20 extra calories (e.g., a quarter of a slice of bread and butter)
* driving an extra 5 miles in an automobile
These examples should put the risk of 1 mrem of radiation into proper perspective. Many more examples will be given in Chapter 8.