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TEPCO: 2-1/2 Times More Fukushima Radiation Released Than Previously Announced

- Common Dreams staff

The nuclear meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant released at least 2-1/2 times more radiation than Japan’s government had announced last year, the company responsible for the disaster said in a Tokyo news conference today.

TEPCO: 2-1/2 Times More Fukushima Radiation Released Than Previously Announced. The severely damaged Fukushima Unit 4 TEPCO, set to be nationalized in July in exchange for a Japanese government bailout, estimated meltdowns at three Fukushima reactors released about 900,000 terabecquerels of radioactive substances into the air during March. The total radiation release at the Chernobyl accident was estimated to be about 5.2 million terabecquerels.

The Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe has cost TEPCO over $100 billion in estimated costs, which includes compensation and clean-up costs. However, the actual costs are much bigger. Many Japanese are bearing the brunt of the damages in their daily lives with most of their claims and losses going uncompensated and most of their suffering unrecognized.

The nationalization of TEPCO, together with a legal practice called “channeling of liability” in which all liability related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has to be channeled to TEPCO, means Japanese taxpayers and ratepayers will foot most of the bill

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Reuters reports:

The radiation released in the first days of the Fukushima nuclear disaster was almost 2-1/2 times the amount first estimated by Japanese safety regulators, the operator of the crippled plant said in a report released on Thursday.

TEPCO, set to be nationalized in July in exchange for a Japanese government bailout, estimated meltdowns at three Fukushima reactors released about 900,000 terabecquerels of radioactive substances into the air during March.Tokyo Electric Power said its own analysis conducted over the past year put the amount of radiation released in the first three weeks of the accident at about one-sixth the radiation released during the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

"If this information had been available at the time, we could have used it in planning evacuations," TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto told a news conference.

Because radiation sensors closest to the plant were knocked out by the March 11, 2011 quake and the tsunami, the utility based its estimate on other monitoring posts and data collected by Japanese government agencies.

TEPCO, set to be nationalized in July in exchange for a Japanese government bailout, estimated meltdowns at three Fukushima reactors released about 900,000 terabecquerels of radioactive substances into the air during March.

That was 2-1/2 times the amount of the first estimate by Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in April last year and about 17 percent more than the highest estimate provided by the government safety agency.

The estimate was based on measurements suggesting the amount of Iodine-131 released by the nuclear accident was three times higher than previous estimates, the utility said in the report.

Iodine-131 is a fast-decaying radioactive substance produced by fission that takes place inside a nuclear reactor. It has a half-life of eight days.

More than 99 percent of the radiation released by the accident came in the first three weeks, it added.

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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station - February 26, 2012 (click on image for high resolution version)

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