Japan doubles Fukushima radiation leak estimate via The Guardian

The amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan‘s nuclear safety agency has said.

The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant, where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than government officials have acknowledged.

In another development that is expected to add to criticism of Japan’s handling of the crisis, the agency said molten nuclear fuel dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel in the No 1 reactor within five hours of the accident, 10 hours earlier than previously thought.

By the end of last week, radiation levels inside the reactor had risen to 4,000 millisieverts per hour, the highest atmospheric reading inside the plant since the disaster.

The agency also speculated that the meltdown in another reactor had been faster than initially estimated by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco).

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