New study: TEPCO plant at Fukushima released double radiation of earlier estimate, AP says

TOKYO (TR) – The Japanese authorities underestimated the amount of radioactive material released by last March’s Fukushima nuclear disaster by nearly half, the Associated Press reported, citing a new study.

The study by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research estimated the accident involving the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company released 36,000 terabecquerels of cesium-137 into the atmosphere by April 20. An earlier study by the Japanese government estimated just 15,000 terabecquerels of cesium was released during the same period, the AP said.

The Norwegian researchers looked at a network of sensors worldwide while the Japanese government study looked only at sensors in Japan, according to the AP. Terabecquerels are a standard of measurement for radiation.

The Norwegian study estimates the disaster in Fukushima released about 42 percent of the total radioactive material released by the Soviet Union’s 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. The half-life of Cesium-137 is just over 30 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Though it is found naturally in the environment, increased exposure heightens the risk of cancer, the EPA has warned.

Sources: Washington Post and EPA

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