Workers re-enter Fukushima nuclear power plant

Workers entered one of the damaged reactor buildings at Japan's stricken nuclear power plant for the first time since it was rocked by an explosion in the days after a devastating earthquake, the country's nuclear safety agency said.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said workers are connecting ventilation equipment in Unit 1 in an attempt to absorb radiation from the air inside the building. The work is expected to take about four or five days.



The utility must lower radiation levels inside the reactor before it can proceed with the key step of installing a cooling system that was knocked out by the March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami that left more than 25,000 people dead or missing along Japan's northeastern coast.



Workers have not been able to enter the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, since the first days after the tsunami. Hydrogen explosions at four of the buildings at the six-reactor complex in the first few days destroyed some of their roofs and walls and scattered radioactive debris.



In mid-April, a robot recorded radioactivity readings of about 50 millisieverts per hour inside Unit 1's reactor building — a level too high for workers to realistically enter.



The decision to send the workers in was made after robots last Friday collected fresh data that showed radiation levels were safe enough for workers to enter some areas, said Taisuke Tomikawa, a spokesman for TEPCO.



Two workers entered the reactor building around 11:30 am (0230GMT) for about 25 minutes. They were exposed to 2 millisieverts during that time, Tomikawa said.



A dozen workers split up into teams were expected to go into the building on a rotation for short periods to limit radiation exposure.



"This is an effort to improve the environment inside the reactor building," he said.



The workers were equipped with protective gear and a mask and air tank set similar to those used by scuba divers, according to an official at the Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency.



Outside the reactor building, the utility erected a temporary tent designed to prevent radioactive air from escaping.



TEPCO has laid out a blueprint for bringing the bringing the plant into a cold shutdown within six to nine months.



Japanese authorities more than doubled the legal limit of radiation exposure for nuclear workers since the crisis began to 250 millisieverts a year. Workers in the U.S. nuclear industry are allowed an upper limit of 50 millisieverts per year. Doctors say radiation sickness sets in at 1,000 millisieverts and includes nausea and vomiting.



Radiation leaking from the Fukushima plant has forced 80,000 people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius to leave their homes. Many are living in gymnasiums and community centers.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits