Tokyo Electric Power Co. found a dangerous level of radiation at its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, eight months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that caused the worst atomic crisis in 25 years.
Workers at the company usually called Tepco detected 620 millisieverts of radiation an hour on the first floor of Reactor 3 on Nov. 3, the highest level found in that unit, it said.
The level of radiation is more than the 500-millisievert short-term dose recommended as the maximum for emergency workers in live-saving situations, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company and government officials are trying to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused a loss of cooling and the meltdowns of three reactors.
Tepco will today start taking radiation out of water used to cool spent fuel rods, spokesman Hiroki Kawamata said today by phone.
The utility will start decontaminating coolant water for spent rods held in the upper section of Reactor 2, which was relatively undamaged in the explosions that rocked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in March.
Tepco on Nov. 4 won approval for a 900 billion yen ($11.5 billion) bailout from the government after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe to avert bankruptcy and start paying compensation for the crisis.
Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano approved the support after Tepco committed to cutting 7,400 jobs and 2.5 trillion yen in costs. The utility forecast an annual loss of 600 billion yen, its second since the March earthquake and tsunami wrecked its Fukushima nuclear plant.
The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is stepping in to ensure residents, farmers, fishermen and forestry businesses are properly compensated by a utility that supplies power to 29 million customers in the political and economic heart of Japan.
The forecast by Japan’s biggest utility brings its losses to 1.8 trillion yen since the disaster. The company plans to cut about 14 percent of its workforce and shave off the costs during the next 10 years, it said in a statement last week.
Tepco shares fell 0.7 percent to 300 yen at the close in Tokyo on Nov. 4. They are down 86 percent since three reactors melted down at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant north of Tokyo. The company reported first-half earnings at about 4 p.m. after the market closed on Nov. 4.
Tepco had a 627.3 billion yen loss in the six months to Sept. 30 against a profit of 92 billion yen a year earlier. It’s forecasting an operating loss of 305 billion yen for the full-year, according to its earnings statement.
Its loss was 1.25 trillion yen in the year to March 31 and 572 billion yen in this year’s first quarter.
The reactor meltdowns in Fukushima forced 160,000 people to flee radiation and damaged fishing, farming and forestry businesses.
“Tepco must compensate those affected with sincerity and generosity as well as carry out a thorough reorganization,” Edano told reporters in Tokyo on Nov. 4.
Higashi-Dori village about 600 kilometers (380 miles) north of Tokyo and the host village of one of the nuclear power plants shut down in the disaster, received 15.7 billion yen from nuclear operators, the Asahi newspaper reported today.
Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co., which have had all their east coast atomic stations shut down in the disaster, paid the donations and fees over a 30 year period, the newspaper said.