Radiation tests lacking / Nuclear plant workers unsure of internal exposure levels
The Yomiuri Shimbun
egulations on preventing health problems caused by ionizing radiation require operators of power plants to conduct internal exposure tests every three months on plant employees who enter areas designated by laws and regulations on radiation-related health problems.
"My measured value [of radioactive exposure] exceeded the standard value by a double-digit factor. That's never happened before," said a plant worker in his 20s, recalling the time he saw the results of a test he took outside Fukushima Prefecture in early May.
The man, an employee of a company that works with TEPCO, installed power cables near a reactor building at the plant for a month beginning at the end of March.
The test is conducted by a device called a "whole-body counter."
While a normal internal radiation level would range from several hundred cpm to 1,000 cpm, he was told his level was 30,000 cpm.
High levels of radiation emitted by debris were measured in his work area.
Although the masks worn by workers are supposed to be changed every three hours, he was told by a management company that he did not have to change his if there was no radioactive contamination.
He therefore used a single mask for five to six hours.
He ate in a building that houses an emergency headquarters and accommodates plant workers. At the end of April, he was notified that the building was also radiation-contaminated.
"I've probably taken in radioactivity while eating," he said.