Up to 1.12 trillion becquerels of cesium was dispersed last summer as debris was removed from the battered building of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, with tainted rice later being found in Miniamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, according to Tokyo Electric.
Last Aug. 19, radiation-tainted dirt and dust was stirred up while the debris was removed from the unit, which was gutted by an explosion during the March 2011 meltdown crisis, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday at a review meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
By Tepco’s estimate, up to 280 billion becquerels per hour of radiation were released into the environment over four hours. That’s 2,800 times the 10 billion becquerels per hour usually discharged from buildings at the crippled plant.
The work set off an warning alarm for airborne radiation at the plant and the cesium-tainted rice was found in paddies about 20 km north of the plant.
A southeast wind was blowing at the time of the removal work.
Tepco claims it was still not known whether the rice contamination had a causal connection with the work.