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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 7 - 13  > Ibaraki JCP urges atomic energy agency to take measures to prevent radiation exposure accident
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2017 June 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Ibaraki JCP urges atomic energy agency to take measures to prevent radiation exposure accident

June 8, 9, and 10, 2017
Following an accident in which Japan Atomic Energy Agency workers inhaled radioactive substances, the Japanese Communist Party Ibaraki Prefectural Committee on June 8 urged the JAEA to take measures to minimize workers’ health dangers and prevent a recurrence of similar accidents.

The internal radiation exposure occurred two days earlier at the agency’s Oarai Research and Development Center (Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture). When workers were checking the conditions of containers holding powdered nuclear fuels, the plastic cover which seals one of the containers suddenly burst open and the toxic powder flew out, contaminating workers’ bodies.

The agency’s tests detected radioactive substances in four workers’ lungs. In the case of a worker in his 50s, one of the four, his lungs were found to be contaminated with 22,000 becquerels of plutonium 239. This means that the man will be exposed to a radiation dose of up to 12 sieverts in the next 50 years because most of the plutonium in his lung tissues will remain there for a long time. The latest incident has become the JAEA’s worst internal radiation exposure accident, far exceeding the previous worst one in which the exposure level was tens of millisieverts in 50 years.

In response to Akahata’s investigation, the agency said that the container in question had not been opened for inspection for 26 years since 1991. The institute stores 80 similar containers in total.

On the day, the JCP members of the Ibaraki prefectural and Oarai Town assemblies made representations to the Oarai center’s vice chief. The JCP members demanded that the agency act to reduce radiation-induced health risks for the affected workers. They also demanded that the agency thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and prevent another such an accident from happening.

In reply, the vice chief said that the agency might not be strict enough in regard to accident prevention efforts and that they will step up safety measures.

* * *

Ibaraki JCP urges pref. assembly to investigate radiation exposure accident

The Japanese Communist Party Ibaraki Prefectural Assemblymembers’ group on June 9 urged the assembly to investigate the radiation exposure accident at the JAEA and hold discussions on the issue at relevant assembly committee meetings.

In a written request submitted to the assembly, the JCP demanded that the assembly press the prefectural government and the JAEA to provide information and materials concerning the accident; summon agency officials to appear as unsworn witnesses in assembly committee meetings; and send its own investigation team to the accident site.
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