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Mon Dec 9, 2013 12:19AM
An aerial file photo of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

An aerial file photo of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

Outdoor radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant have climbed to their highest, a report says. According to a report published by Russia Today on Sunday, Fukushima’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) detected the record radiation levels on a duct that connects reactor buildings and the ventilation pipe located outside on Friday. After measuring radiation at eight locations around the pipe, TEPCO estimated the highest at two locations -- 25 sieverts per hour and about 15 sieverts per hour. Japan's public broadcaster NHK said that the readings marked the highest radiation levels ever detected outside the reactor building. Earlier, TEPCO had found radiation levels of at least 10 sieverts per hour on the pipe. On March 11, 2011, a nine-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. The cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material. In October, TEPCO said Japanese technicians found new leak of radioactive water in one of the storage tanks of the broken nuclear power station, noting that 430 liters (100 gallons) of the toxic water had leaked from the 450-ton tank because of heavy rainfall. The company added that contaminated water might have flown into the Pacific Ocean. In August, 300 tons of radioactive water was found to have leaked from a separate tank. The leakage has prompted health concerns among neighbors of Japan including South Korea. Meanwhile, the chairwoman of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on December 6 that water exposed to radiation from Fukushima plant will reach the US at safe levels. “The highest amount of radiation that will reach the US is two orders of magnitude -- 100 times -- less than the drinking water standard,” Allison Macfarlane said in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. “So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.” TEPCO has long struggled to control waste water at the plant. A report released by a Japanese parliamentary panel in July said the disaster in Fukushima was not only due to the tsunami, but also a “man-made disaster.” MR/HN/AS
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