Five workers exposed to radioactive material at Japan nuclear research facility
Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) said in a statement the incident occurred during a check on radioactive storage inside a "controlled" room at the facility in Oarai, with no radioactive material leaking outside.
Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the regulator Nuclear Regulation Authority, in a weekly news conference on Wednesday criticized JAEA for not being more careful and said the level of exposure within the room where the accident happened was "high".
Up to 22,000 becquerels of radioactive materials were detected in the lungs of one of the workers, JAEA said. That could potentially expose him to levels of radiation many times higher than most people over the coming decades.
A JAEA spokesman who declined to be named said the material in that worker's lungs was plutonium, marking the highest such measurement for plutonium from any atomic accident in the country.
Another company spokesman said measurements of radioactive materials between 2,200 becquerels and 14,000 becquerels were detected in the other four workers. He said some of this may have come from plutonium. ■