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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 22 - 28  > 33 people exposed to radiation at nuclear laboratory
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2013 May 22 - 28 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

33 people exposed to radiation at nuclear laboratory

May 26 & 28, 2013

It has been brought to light that a total of 33 people, including women and graduate students, were exposed to up to 1.7mSv of radiation in an accident on May 23 at Japan’s atomic laboratory.

Although some radioactive substances produced by the accident were leaking outside the facility, it was not until one and a half days later that the accident was reported to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

A malfunction of experimental equipment apparently led to the radiation leak. At the laboratory, the possibility of leakage had not been assessed.

The accident occurred at a laboratory of the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is jointly operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization.

At the research facility, filters to adsorb radioactive materials have not been installed to vents and ventilation fans. Moreover, it has no manual to deal with radioactive leakage.

The Ibaraki prefectural government held a news conference before dawn on May 25, shortly after the JAEA notified the NRA of the accident, criticizing the JAEA for its slow response to the leakage.

On the same day, officials of the prefecture and the seven municipalities surrounding the facility carried out an on-the-spot investigation. After that, a prefectural official who is in charge of safety measures to prevent nuclear accidents told reporters that the situation is “very serious”. They are going to take a close look at the investigation results and consider an appropriate response to the matter.
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