Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, March 28, 2011 (1:30 PM EDT)

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 28, 2011 – UPDATE AS OF 1:30 P.M. EDT.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has detected isolated, low concentrations of plutonium in the soil at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The density of plutonium is equivalent to the fallout that reached Japan from nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War, the company said.

TEPCO conducted analysis of plutonium contained in the soil collected on March 21 and 22 at five locations at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were detected, however just two of the samples may be the direct result of the recent incident, considering the ratio of the plutonium isotopes.

“The density detected in the plutonium is equivalent to the density in the soil under normal environmental conditions and therefore poses no major impact on human health,” TEPCO said. The company said it plans to strengthen environmental monitoring inside the station and surrounding areas.

The International Atomic Energy Agency today said it plans to conduct a high-level conference on nuclear safety “before the summer.” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said it is “vitally important that we learn the right lessons from what happened on March 11, and afterwards, in order to strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world.”

Amano said the conference should cover: an initial assessment of the Fukushima accident, its impact and consequences; lessons learned for the industry; strengthening nuclear safety; and strengthening the response to nuclear accidents and emergencies.

Radiation levels in the seawater near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remained high on Monday, but dropped considerably from the levels reported on Sunday. Monday’s sampling near the plant’s south discharge outlet showed that radioactive iodine levels were 250 times normal, reduced significantly from 1,850 times normal.

Radiation dose rates also remained elevated in the turbine buildings of reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4. Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday said that workers had found similarly high radiation levels in water in drainage conduits outside reactors 1 and 2. The company said that rubble at reactor 3 prevented measures from being taken there on Monday.

TEPCO is pumping contaminated water from the basement of the turbine building at reactors 1 and 2 to the main condenser. The company also continued to pump fresh water into reactors 1, 2 and 3, using electrical-driven pumps rather than diesel-powered fire pumps.

Levels of radiation at the plant’s main gate ranged from 12.5 millirems per hour to about 20 millirem per hour. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual limit for occupational exposure is 5,000 millirem.

For more information about radiation, see NEI’s Web page on health and radiation safety.