The operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear plant said on Wednesday it was still working on a detailed plan to end the country’s nuclear crisis a month after it began, as tests showed radiation levels in the sea near the complex had spiked.Engineers moved a step closer to emptying highly radioactive water from one of the six crippled reactors, which would allow them to start repairing the cooling system crucial to regaining control of the reactors.
Japan’s nuclear safety agency said the latest tests showed radiation nearly doubled last week, to 23 times above legal limits, in the sea off Minamisoma city near the plant.
Radiation in Tokyo, 240 km (150 miles) from the plant, had fallen to pre-disaster levels on Tuesday, the science ministry said late on Wednesday.
A series of strong aftershocks this week has rattled eastern Japan, slowing the recovery effort at the Fukushima Daiichi plant due to temporary evacuations of workers and power outages.
The beleaguered president of operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the situation at the nuclear plant, wrecked by a 15-metre tsunami on March 11, had stabilised.
But TEPCO president Masataka Shimizu said the firm was still preparing a blueprint to end the crisis, now rated on a par with the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
But experts were quick to point out the two crises were vastly different in terms of radiation contamination, and on Wednesday, Russia’s nuclear chief said Japan was exaggerating the scope of the disaster.
Meanwhile, TEPCO’s Tokyo head office has been the target of angry protests over the nuclear crisis and authorities took no chances on Wednesday, with riot trucks and security officers guarding the front gate during the news conference.