Fukushima operator under fire over false radiation reports

Fukushima power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has come under fire over growing concerns about the credibility of its radioactive reports.

While the company confirmed that the contamination level of radioactive iodine in the groundwater is 10,000 times the legal norm, it did admit that some of its radiation data was flawed due to technical errors with a measuring device, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Earlier in the week, the company had to correct its analysis of water contamination at unit 2 of the facility.

Also, according to the government’s Japanese Nuclear Industry and Safety Agency (NISA), the density readings of radioactive materials in groundwater samples, taken on Tuesday and Wednesday from near unit 1 of the plant, should be revised downward.

The agency announced that TEPCO’s programs to evaluate the concentration of such materials as tellurium, molybdenum and zirconium contained errors. It confirmed, however, that the company’s programs to measure the level of radioactive iodine were correct.

''TEPCO faces a grave situation as it is failing to live up to the expectations of people who are very worried by the company. Its data should be trustworthy,'' NISA spokesperson Hidehiko Nishiyama was quoted by Kyodo as saying. 

Japanese officials are planning to pump out contaminated water from the quake-hit reactors at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant after radiation was detected in groundwater nearby. The plant workers are also moving fresh water to the plant to pump into the troubled reactors to continue cooling them down, Kyodo reports.

In an effort to prevent radioactive dust from being carried by the wind and rain from the plant, TEPCO has begun a test-spraying of water-soluble resin, which has a coating effect. A total of 60,000 liters of resin will be sprayed over the debris at the facility within two weeks.

There were several explosions and fires at the Fukushima reactors following the devastating tsunami and earthquake, which hit the country on March 11.

Although the Japanese government ordered the evacuation of residents within 20 kilometers of the plant, 29 people refused to leave their homes, Itar-Tass news agency reports.

According to American writer and Japan specialist Alex Kerr, many of those who stay believe they have solid reasons to do so.

“There was actually an interview on Japanese television, where an old couple said: ‘Look, we have lived here all our lives, we are ready to die here,’” he said. “One issue is that you have people, who are really immobilized, old people who cannot move. Some people have commentators and doctors saying that stress for people like that, leaving their homes and being put in the center somewhere is going to be much harder on their health than whatever radiation they might get.”