Lethal Levels of Radiation Detected at Fukushima

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In many ways, it looks like daily life in Fukushima is slipping back into its familiar routines. In Koriyama, a town south of Fukushima City, a group of taiko drummers set up in front of the train station to perform in an annual summer festival. Girls cruise by on bicycles in their plaid skirts and white socks in the unusually mild August, and customers stop to browse at boxes of fresh peaches — a seasonal specialty of the prefecture, and, thanks to government testing, guaranteed to be mostly iodine- and cesium free.

The rhythm of the seasons in this rural swath of Japan may be regaining some sense of normalcy, but a reminder that things are still anything but is never far away. As if to prove that point, on Tuesday Tokyo Electric Power Company announced that workers at their Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant had discovered a second highly radioactive location at the plant in two days.

Radiation on the floor inside reactor No. 1 was measured to be 5000 millisieverts per hour, just one day after the employees found another “hot spot” of 10,000 millisieverts per hour at the base of a structure between reactors No. 1 and No. 2. (That was also as high as the Geiger counters could read; in reality, the levels could be higher.) As it is, both levels are many times higher than anything previously measured on the site; if a worker was exposed to 10,ooo millisieverts per hour for one hour, he or she could die within weeks.

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