Japan Nuclear Plant Receives Criticism Over Safety Concerns
Tokyo Electric Power Co. allowed workers to walk in contaminated water at the plant without proper footwear. The incident sent two employees to the hospital after their feet were burned from the water, which was 10,000 times more radioactive than normal.
Three workers were in the ankle-deep water Thursday and were carrying dosemeters. But they ignored the high-radiation warnings of the devices and continue repair work in the soaked basement of the No. 3 reactor's turbine building, officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, said.
The water was about 15 centimeters deep, officials said.
"I thought (the dosemeter) was out of order," one of the workers was quoted as saying. The radioactivity level had been low in the basement before."
The government pressed TEPCO to be more transparent about its safety practices.
NPR reported additional missteps:
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, said TEPCO was aware there was high radiation in the air at one of the plant's six units several days before the accident in which the workers were injured. And the two workers hurt were wearing boots that only came up to their ankles — hardly high enough to protect their legs, agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
"Regardless of whether there was an awareness of high radioactivity in the stagnant water, there were problems in the way work was conducted," Nishiyama said.
Calculations made by the government indicate that the Fukushima plant has released more radiation than the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, and seperate calculations have found levels of radiation similar to that of Chernobyl in 1986.