U.S. expert decries misleading Fukushima reports about ‘soaring’ radiation

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A member of the American Nuclear Society has written online that radiation levels at the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Japan are not “soaring” as reported by some media last week.

Will Davis, a consultant and writer for the professional membership organization, left a post on its blog, ANS Nuclear Cafe, saying the claims that experts are finding the levels unimaginable are “demonstrably false.”

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., better known as Tepco, said on Feb. 2 that it estimated the radiation below the pressure vessel in the No. 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel to be as high as 530 sieverts per hour based on readings from a remotely controlled camera it stuck in there.

Following the announcement, some media ran reports suggesting the radiation levels had recently risen or mentioned unnamed experts as calling the reading unimaginable.

In his post, dated Tuesday, Davis noted that the earlier readings in the reactor 2 had not been taken at the same spot.

“This is not a ‘soaring’ level but actually just the first detection of the actual level at a place nearer to the damaged fuel.

“No announcement of any altered radiation levels anywhere on the site, or outside of it, has been made because there are no level changes,” he wrote.

The post said the radiation estimate is far from unimaginable, adding that readings taken near the melted fuel at Chernobyl were described as well over 100 sieverts per hour, while an actual level of 1,000 sieverts was reported near the aqueous homogeneous HRE-2 reactor after it developed a hole in its reactor vessel in the late 1950s.

Tepco must conduct more robot probes of the three meltdown-hit reactors to clean up the fuel and decommission them.