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Fukushima Workers Doused With Radioactive Water

Second mishap in a week marks ongoing nuclear disaster

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Workers at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work among underground water storage pools on 17 April 2013. (Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA)In what was just the latest in a long series of mishaps at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, six workers were splashed with radioactive water, plant operator TEPCO said on Wednesday.

A leak occurred when workers accidentally detached a pipe connected to a desalination system and as much as 10 tons of radioactive water may have spilled, hitting workers and covering the floor. 

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan's nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said that while he did not believe the workers were exposed to "a seriously troubling dosage," he said that "the fact that there has been a string of incidents occurring on a daily basis that could have been avoided—I think that is the large problem."

Wednesday's mishap was the second to hit the plant this week.

On Monday, a worker at Fukushima accidentally turned off power to pumps for a water cooling system.

And just days before that, on Thursday of last week, TEPCO announced another spill at the crisis-hit plant released water 6,700 times more radioactive than the legal limit.

The list of problems contributing to the ongoing Fukushima disaster are far from solved, as anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman recently wrote:

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are also leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.  

At Unit #4, more than 1,300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs, are stranded 100 feet in the air.

All this more than 30 months after the 3/11/2011 earthquake/tsunami led to three meltdowns and at least four explosions.

A group of nuclear experts issued a letter "in urgency" to UN head Ban Ki-moon last month imploring him to coordinate international action to deal with the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

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