Unplanned Exposure at Fukushima In a recent mishap at the Fukushima nuclear plant, four workers were inadvertently exposed to water laced with radioactive elements. This incident underscores the lingering risks associated with the ongoing efforts to decommission the plant, a site of a major nuclear catastrophe in 2011, second only to the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.
Details of the Accident While five workers were engaged in the cleaning of the wastewater filtration system, a sudden disconnection of a hose resulted in two of them getting drenched with the tainted water. During the cleanup process, two more workers faced contamination, as stated by a Tepco representative.
Safety Thresholds Breached Post-incident assessments revealed that the radiation levels on two of the affected individuals exceeded the safety limit of 4 becquerels per square centimetre. “The two hospitalized workers are currently stable,” confirmed a spokesperson from Tepco. They are expected to remain under medical supervision for around two weeks to undergo further examinations. Concurrently, Tepco is investigating the root cause of the accident and revisiting safety protocols to prevent similar future occurrences.
Wastewater Release and Global Scrutiny This unsettling event follows closely on the heels of Tepco’s recent release of a second batch of wastewater from the Fukushima facility. This move has been a subject of rigorous international scrutiny, with the United Nations inspecting the site for safety evaluations. Despite Tepco’s initiative on 24 August to discharge over 1 million tonnes of treated water into the sea, significant apprehensions persist, notably from China and local fisherfolk, who fear potential reputational damage to their produce. While this discharged water has undergone treatment to eliminate most radioactive compounds, it still retains tritium, a non-separable hydrogen isotope.
The International Atomic Energy Agency supports Tokyo’s stance that the discharged water poses no harm. However, in direct opposition, both China and Russia have voiced concerns and imposed bans on Japanese seafood imports.
Towards a Safer Decommissioning This water release, equating to the volume of 540 Olympic-sized swimming pools, aims to create room for the more intricate and perilous process of extracting radioactive fuel and debris from the damaged reactors.