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article imageTEPCO struggles to make the public understand radiation levels

By Karen Graham     Feb 9, 2017 in Technology
Tokyo - After six years of misleading information and alleged cover-ups, it seems that TEPCO is still having a problem with communicating with the public. This time the problem was a radiation spike TEPCO discovered in Reactor No. 2, except there was no spike.
Six days ago, Gizmodo reported that "Radiation levels are soaring" inside the damaged power plant, while Fox anchor Lou Dobbs tweeted his 1.1 million followers that the mainstream media was ignoring a "worsening disaster."
Even Digital Journal reported on the information handed out by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on February 2, 2017, where company officials reported that "radiation level near what is believed to be melted fuel in the reactor was 530 sieverts per hour, the highest recorded so far since the triple meltdown in 2011."
Inside reactor No. 2 - The radiation levels are so high they are being called  unimaginable.
Inside reactor No. 2 - The radiation levels are so high they are being called "unimaginable."
There was no rise in radiation levels at all
Yes, TEPCO employees did measure very high radiation levels inside Fukushima Reactor No. 2 after studying images taken from a video camera attached to a pipe that was inserted into the reactor on Jan. 30. And yes, they did confirm radiation levels were the highest recorded since the meltdown. But that was the first time TEPCO had ever measured radiation levels that close to the fuel source.
But according to, the essential “go-to” independent source of information on radiation issues in Japan and elsewhere, "No, it doesn't mean radiation levels there are rising."
And on Thursday, the company said it measured a radiation level of 650 sieverts per hour, according to Bloomberg. The company also sent a remote-controlled cleaning robot inside the No. 2 reactor on Thursday, but after two hours it had to be removed because of the high levels of radiation.
Japan estimates it will take 40 years to collect the melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear rea...
Japan estimates it will take 40 years to collect the melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear reactors, which were devastated after the 2011 disaster
Tepco via Jiji Press, Jiji Press/AFP/File
CBC Canada is reporting that TEPCO said it wanted to inspect and clean the passageway before another robot is sent in to do a more thorough examination, looking for structural damage. TEPCO already has visual images of two fairly large holes on grating for maintenance work below the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel.
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said that Thursday's problem with the robot underscores the "challenges" of decommissioning the plant. And inadequate cleaning, high radiation levels, and structural damages could hinder any subsequent probes into the reactor.
It was also noted that more radiation-resistant cameras and equipment will probably be needed. This is very true because TEPCO will be going into a situation never encountered by humans before. We have known for a long time now that high doses of radiation can be lethal, but how do you decommission a whole power plant with high levels of radiation inside the reactors?
TEPCO struggles with continuing fears over radiation
The public alarm brought about by the reports of high radiation inside the reactor shows that TEPCO still has trouble communicating with a public that is scared to death of radiation. Added to this fear is the suspicion generated by TEPCO officials when the nuclear accident occurred in 2011.
TEPCO was forced to apologize publicly last year after reports came out that management had ordered employees not to use the word "meltdown" at the time of the disaster in 2011. “There is a continuing fear regarding the effects of the accident, which was reinforced by poor information from TEPCO and the Japanese government in the early days,” Azby Brown, lead researcher for said.
TEPCO president Naomi Hirose bows after apologizing for the company s cover-up of the Fukushima disa...
TEPCO president Naomi Hirose bows after apologizing for the company's cover-up of the Fukushima disaster.
Brown added, “While it was clear to people who have been following the technical issues that they did not intend to suggest there had been a rise in radiation levels, we can see why some people misunderstood.”
TEPCO still intends to be open to the news media, hold press conferences, and regularly release information on its website. Later this month, they plan on inserting an investigative robot, called Sasori (scorpion) to take readings and send back images.
But one thing will hold the decommissioning process up - most of the technology needed to remove the melted fuel hasn't been invented yet. It really is a "brave new world."
More about Fukushima power plant, reactor no 2, TEPCO, radiation levels, Robots
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