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article imageJapanese nuclear plant workers exceed radiation exposure limit

By Andrew Ardizzi     May 31, 2011 in World
Tokyo - Two japanese workers in the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant may have been exposed to radiation levels beyond the government's radiation exposure limit.
"The possibility (of the two men) exceeding the limit underscored the severity of (the) working environment at the plant," said Goshi Hosono, director of the government's nuclear crisis task-force, in an Associated Press report.
The two Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) workers, one in his 30s and the other in his 40s, have worked at the plant since the March 11 disasters crippled the plant's cooling systems and left it critically damaged, the Japan Times reported.
The two men, who had been working in reactors three and four, are believed to have been exposed to levels well beyond the 250-millisievert limit set for the crisis, the Japan Times reported.
The government had previously exercised its emergency powers to increase conventional radiation exposure limits for male workers from 100-millisieverts, an international unit of measurement gauging the biological effects of ionizing radiation, Reuters reported.
Although the two men only had external radiation levels between 74 and 89 millisieverts, they were found to have absorbed 7,690 and 9,760 becquerels respectively into their thyroid glands, more than 10 times over levels found in other workers, the Japan Times reported.
Combined with their external radiation levels, the two men are believed to have surpassed the 250 millisievert threshold, a TEPCO official told the Times.
The company also believes 30 additional plant workers have been exposed to radiation levels beyond the 100-millisievert convention, the Associated Press reports.
Reuters reports the Japanese government and TEPCO have both come under fire for not disclosing enough information regarding the severity of radiation doses and the associated risks, while the extent to which workers have been briefed on the potential dangers is in question.
"The problem is that too much policy has been focused on protecting TEPCO and not enough on the public," Kiyoshi Kurakawa, a medical doctor who served as a science adviser to the government from 2006-2008, told Reuters.
Preliminary health checks have shown no abnormalities in either man, although more detailed exams will be conducted to ensure both are healthy, Reuters reported.
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