Food must be cleansed, Chernobyl expert warns

Kyodo

A Russian expert on the 1986 Chernobyl disaster has told a symposium in Aomori Prefecture that it is imperative to cleanse food of radioactive substances emitted by the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Mikhail Balanov, a professor at the St. Petersburg Research Institute of Radiation Hygiene, proposed during the symposium Friday at Hirosaki University in the city of Hirosaki that Japanese farmers use the Prussian blue pigment to remove cesium from livestock and apply fertilizer designed to prevent the transmission of radioactive materials from soil to plants, methods used during the Chernobyl crisis.

The area affected by the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power station is smaller than that contaminated by the Chernobyl plant, and no acute health effects linked to radiation have been confirmed yet in the Fukushima crisis, he said.

He added that the medical expertise and knowhow from dealing with the Chernobyl disaster are relevant to Japan’s efforts to control the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima plant.

Balanov was in charge of assessing the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on people’s health and the environment.

Aomori Prefecture, which hosts a number of nuclear facilities, including a controversial facility in the village of Rokkasho designed to recycle spent nuclear fuel, is not immune to nuclear disasters like the one that hit Fukushima No. 1.

The four-day symposium, which began Wednesday and wrapped up Saturday, was attended by 130 researchers from 30 countries.

New thermometer plan

kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has notified the government of a plan to set up a new temperature gauge to replace a troubled thermometer at a reactor at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tepco is considering lowering the thermometer 15 to 20 meters down an existing pipe to gauge the water temperature at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor, according to a report the utility submitted Friday to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

But the report said the earliest Tepco can start the replacement work is late July because it involves complicated tasks, such as threading the thermometer through a hole only 6 mm wide.

The report also said the No. 2 reactor is equipped with 41 thermometers, of which only 16 are usable.