Regulator to Take Bigger Role Monitoring Fukushima Radiation

Japan’s nuclear regulator will take a bigger role in overseeing Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s radiation monitoring at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant after criticizing the utility’s reporting of its data.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will instruct the utility, Japan’s biggest, on how to measure radiation rates and create a map of contaminated areas, according to a statement from the watchdog today.

The regulator is stepping in two days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented a new policy allowing for government intervention to deal with leaks of contaminated water at the site 220 kilometers (137 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Tepco, as the plant operator is known, said on Aug. 31 that a beta-ray radiation reading of 230 millisieverts per hour had been found on a section of pipe at a tank used to store contaminated water.

That’s an incorrect measure to convey surface area contamination, Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA’s chairman, said at a meeting in Tokyo today.

“Tepco should have used becquerels per unit area,” he said. “The wrongdoing led to concern that there was a lot of contamination but basically this is just surface contamination affecting a 20 square-centimeter area.”

The highest radiation reading around Tepco’s storage tanks was 2,200 millisieverts per hour recorded by the company on Sept 3. Tepco has boosted its number of tank inspectors to 96, according to a statement yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yuji Okada in Tokyo at yokada6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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