Theft of potentially radioactive metal materials from Fukushima in Japan

World News
2023-09-21 | 07:55
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Theft of potentially radioactive metal materials from Fukushima in Japan
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Theft of potentially radioactive metal materials from Fukushima in Japan

Japanese authorities have reported that construction workers stole and sold scrap metal near the disabled Fukushima nuclear power station, raising concerns of potential radioactive contamination, as announced by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment on Thursday.

The materials disappeared from a demolished museum located in a restricted area about four kilometers from the northeastern Japanese nuclear facility that was devastated by a tsunami in 2011.

Although people were allowed to return to the area in 2022 after extensive decontamination efforts, radiation levels remain higher than the natural average, and it is surrounded by a prohibited zone.

An official at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, Ki Ousada, told Agence France-Presse that the ministry had been informed of the theft by workers involved in a joint demolition project in late July and that they were "exchanging information with the police."

Ousada confirmed that the scrap metal might have been used in the foundation of the building, "meaning that these metals are unlikely to have been exposed to high levels of radiation during the nuclear incident."

If radiation levels are found to be high, the metals in the area must be transported to a temporary storage facility or disposed of properly. If radiation levels are low, it may be possible to reuse them.

Ousada explained that radiation levels for the stolen scrap metal had not been measured.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, citing unidentified sources on Tuesday, workers sold the scrap metal to companies outside the region for about 900,000 yen (approximately $6,000).

The quantity of lost metals, their whereabouts, and whether they pose a health risk have not yet been determined.

Japan began discharging the equivalent of over 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools of treated water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean on August 24, following 12 years since a tsunami struck the facility's reactors in one of the world's worst nuclear accidents.

The plant's operator, TEPCO, claims to have successfully purified the water from all radioactive elements except for tritium, which is within safe limits.


AFP
 

World News

Theft

Potential

Radioactive

Metal

Materials

Fukushima

Japan

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