03/28/2011, 00.00

Fukushima still out of control: months or years to return to normal

Radioactive levels in the sea close to the reactors 5 and 6 grows, while there are problems to reactivate the normal cooling system. A British expert says: "The complexity of the situation is certainly equal to that of Chernobyl."

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A rate of "Iodine 131" 1,150 times higher than normal was detected in seawater sampled at only 30 meters from reactors 5 and 6 of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, badly damaged by the earthquake of March '11. This was announced by the Japan Nuclear Safety Agency. So far the test had been only carried out in the southern part of the plant, near the reactors 1-4, the most damaged: there the level of "Iodine 131" in the last test was 2 thousand times greater than normal. The technicians in Fukushima who are battling to normalize the situation in the nuclear plant, are faced with increasing problems Some experts speak of a scenario not unlike that of Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster recorded so far. Other problems have added to this including the miscalculations radiation levels, and the lack of appropriate tanks to contain large amounts of contaminated water. Technicians are working to remove contaminated water from the plant and reactivate the normal cooling system.

Yesterday, the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), the company that manages Fukushima, said that the rate of radioactivity in the reactor 2 was 10 million times higher than normal, and workers were immediately evacuated from the plant. By the end of the day, TEPCO was forced to admit that the figure was 100 times less than initially declared. The government has described the error as "unacceptable." The vice-president of TEPCO, Sakae Muto, said he did not know "how many months or years it will take" for Fukushima to return to normal.

In this scenario the statements of Dr. Robert Gale, hematologist at Imperial College London are worrying. After having visited the site he said the "complexity is certainly equal to Chernobyl in terms of trying to figure out how to contain the situation and how to alleviate the damage to the reactor." He added that the situation at Chernobyl was actually easier, because the reactor was exposed and "it was possible to bombard it " while the Fukushima structure is intact and it is men have to enter it to understand what is happening. "It 's a very difficult situation."
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