OSAKA — Three workers at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were exposed to high radiation as they sought to restore power to reactor three, with two needing hospitalization, the nuclear safety agency said Thursday. “Three workers who were working to lay cables in the basement of the turbine building were exposed to radiation between 170 to 180 millisieverts,” a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said. “Two were sent to hospital after they found themselves in a puddle of water. Although they wore protective clothing, the contaminated water seeped in and their legs were exposed to radiation.” An exposure of 100 millisieverts per year is considered the lowest level at which any increase in cancer risk is evident. “Direct exposure to radiation usually leads to inflammation and so that’s why they were sent to the hospital to be treated,” the spokesman added. TEPCO said that a total of 14 workers have been exposed to at least 100 millisieverts since the quake and tsunami cut off the plant’s power supply and knocked out backup systems, causing the cooling systems to fail.
The plant has been hit by explosions and fires and has emitted high levels of radiation, prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands.
Fire and army crews have hosed down the reactors to cool them and topped up spent fuel rod pools in desperate measures intended to stop a major disaster, but also creating radioactive steam.