Fukushima: Very high radiation levels still being found in some parts of power plant

This image shows two spots at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, at the bottom of a ventilation stack between the No.1 and No.2 reactors, where radiation levels are still high enough to kill a human being. I'm talking about the quick-death-by-radiation-poisoning sort of "kill," not the possible-death-by-cancer-at-some-point-in-the-future sort. At the colored spots, radiation levels were measured at 10 sieverts (10,000 millisieverts) per hour.

The image was captured using a gamma ray camera, the same sort of equipment that researchers use to track radioactive isotopes in the human body as part of medical treatments.

Image: REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power Co

Via David Biello and the Atlantic Wire


  1. Correction: At least 10 sieverts / hour. Other sources indicate that’s the maximum measuring capability of the device.

    1. Alas, there aren’t any (appropriate) filters in those stacks.

      What you see is most likely Cs-137 in water that condensated in the stack and followed gravity downward, collecting where you see it. The total amount trapped that way is very small compared to the amount that was released.

      Although a lot of the stuff was actually released because of the hydrogen explosions – a problem that people knew about at least since the 1980ies. And one that could be resolved relatively easily and cheaply with sets of passive autocatalytic recombiners (about $5 mio per reactor building – though that might be 1980ies dollars). And the equipment is in fact installed at least in the plants of France, Germany and Sweden. (With those I’m sure. That doesn’t mean other countries reactors don’t have them. – Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi obviously had not.)

  2. So … THAT’s where the chunks were leaning after the spent-storage fuel pool went critical and exploded …

    10Sv/hr is a -hellacious- lot of rads. That’s not coming from a little Ce dust.

    1. Care to provide a source for that statement? It just so happens to be absurd.

      Edit: Also, less than a gram of Cs-137 is perfectly sufficient to get that kind of dose. The dose refers to the surface of the stack – which might be just a few millimeters away from the source of the radiation, if it is on the other side of a thin sheet of metal. You’d have a much smaller dose just a few centimeters away from the surface, and a very much smaller dose a few meters away – so small, that it drops below the (rather high) background radiation. The high concentration at the spot can’t be discovered without some specialized equipment such as a gamma-ray-camera – but as the spot only contributes a small amount to the background radiation, that doesn’t really matter much until you have to work right next to this spot.

      Think of it as a lightbulb. The filament is some 3000 degrees hot – which is why it glows with such intensity and that bright color. But a few meters away, you can’t feel its heat at all. It’s good to know though, that the bulb is hot – as you would burn your hand if you were to go very close to it and touch it.

      The intensity of radiation falls off with the square of distance – no matter what radiation you’re talking about. That’s not, btw. caused by the radiation, it’s about geometry, which is the reason why it’s applicable for gamma radiation, x-rays, visible light, radio, sound and many other phenomena.

  3. “radiation poisoning” you say…. at that kind of exposure, it’ll be
    cooking the flesh everywhere, inside and out. imagine a bad sunburn that
    penetrates thru’ the entire body of yours. your flesh will look like over-coocked turkey drum sticks.

    “poisoning” does not do justice!!!

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