9 Juin 2017
June 9, 2017
Workers stayed in contaminated room for 3 hours
The operator of a nuclear research facility north of Tokyo says the 5 workers who were accidentally exposed to radioactive substances had spent 3 hours in the contaminated room.
The workers were inspecting fuel storage containers at the facility of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Ibaraki Prefecture on Tuesday when the incident occurred.
Four of them suffered internal radiation exposure when a bag of powdered radioactive substances, including plutonium, ripped and the contents spilled out. One of the 4 was found to have 22,000 becquerels of plutonium 239 in his lungs.
The agency officials said on Friday that a tent was set up outside the room after the accident to prevent radiation from spreading.
They said the workers remained in the room for about 3 hours until the tent was ready.
The officials said they swiftly began preparations to evacuate the workers after instructing them to stay as far away as possible from the ripped bag.
The agency plans to investigate whether the evacuation procedures affected radiation exposure.
5 nuclear center workers stayed in contaminated room for 3 hours
The five workers who were exposed to radiation at a nuclear energy research center in Ibaraki Prefecture on June 6 remained in the contaminated room for about three hours, it has been disclosed.
The workers stayed in the room until measures were taken to prevent radioactive substances, including plutonium, from leaking outside.
The three-hour stay could have led to the worst internal radiation exposure case in Japan’s history, in which 22,000 becquerels of plutonium were detected in the lungs of one of the workers.
According to the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the accident, in which radioactive substances leaked from a container, occurred in an analysis room of a fuel research building of the JAEA's Oarai Research and Development Center in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, at around 11:15 a.m. on June 6.
Those substances could have leaked out of the room if the workers had left through a door, so they asked colleagues outside to take measures to prevent such a leak.
The colleagues set up a closed space outside the door in which they could check the workers’ bodies and decontaminate them.
The space was completed at around 2:30 p.m., which meant that the five workers stayed in the room for about three hours after the accident occurred.
The workers were wearing masks attached with filters to cover their mouths and noses, but they apparently inhaled radioactive substances through the gaps during the three hours in the room.
Numbers of the Day:
The level of radioactivity detected in the lungs of one of five people accidentally exposed to radioactive material at a nuclear research facility in Ibaraki prefecture