TEPCO admitted to JapanTimes via Jiji that a deadly high level of radiation was found outside of unit 2’s containment. TEPCO found a reading of 9.4 sieverts per hour. These readings were taken in September but TEPCO only now admits them in the end of October. No press handout has been published on this new finding so far. Jiji says they were informed on Thursday. It is possible this was verbally conveyed at the press conference. But TEPCO has known there was a problem since June yet they didn’t explain the seriousness of it until now.
The area where the high readings were likely located based on the information in the Jiji article is the CRD hatch area that had been behind the shield blocks. TEPCO has been working to remove the last of the shield blocks since the end of the summer as the last rows were fused requiring additional equipment to dislodge them.
In June TEPCO used Packbot to take a few photos and radiation readings. The readings made public then were above the shield blocks and above the spot of leaked debris below the CRD hatch door. A footnote on that handout mentions the high readings found in June were not totally accurate as the meter only went to 999.9 mSv/h. The readings they found on the hatch were over that limit, they didn’t know by how much. Numbers in the image below are in millisievert per hour units.
As mentioned in the JapanTimes article, this radiation level found is dangerous and could kill a worker in 45 minutes. The work to connect the equipment housing the scorpion robot and prepare it for operation requires extended hands on work in this area. TEPCO said they will be working on decontamination efforts around this hatch. Earlier photos of this hatch area taken by Packbot showed a dripped and leaked black substance. It is possible this was gasket materials from the hatch that melted during the original meltdown. It is likely this substance contains fuel debris fragments or high concentrations of radioactive materials from inside containment for such high levels to be found. The current schedule has the robot inspection work beginning in January 2016. The recent decision to move the inspection down the calendar may have been due to this September finding of high radiation.
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