4 researchers exposed to radiation at Tokaimura lab


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Japan, the most radioactive country in the world, since 1945. Sorry for the bad joke, I know it can seem insensitive, but man, how can this country continues with its nuclear policy when there have been so many disasters caused by nuclear power? The only country in the world to have been nuked, doesn't want to abandon this letal weapon. It's absurd. You can live without nuclear power. It's a fact. You have to modifiy a bit your lifestyle, but you will have still a country where you can live, at least. Imagine if all the country became like the ghost towns around Fukushima. And it's possible, sadly, with 54 nuclear reactors in the territory and costant earthquakes. Japan wants to destroy itself, and his politicians are more afraid to fight with the other Asian countries denying the history, rather than to fix this mess about the nuclear power. Close all your reactors. Your danger is also a danger for the rest of the world.

I love Japan, but my love doesn't make me blind in front of its mistakes.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Time to get some foreigners in to show them the way - if they insist on this dangerous power source.

Implying French, Russians, Americans, etc. have never got any problems with nuclear power. There are tons of minor accidents everywhere, most of them are hidden to the people, though. Japan should close its reactors mainly because it is more exposed to danger, being very prone to earthquakes. You can't say the same for France, for example, but they have had some minor accidents as well. Italy (my country) said "NO" to nuclear power. We buy tons of electric energy from France, it's true. But France isn't prone to earthquakes as much as Italy, so it's less dangerous to have reactors in France than in Italy. We have done the right choice.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"Radiation leaked from the facility to the outer atmosphere after workers used fans to lower the radiation levels in the laboratory, it said."

Geez. You just can't trust this nation with anything nuclear these days.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

I was so afraid when the second and very serious Tokaimura nuclear accident occurred on 30 September 1999 (the first one occurred on 11 March 1997). I cried for days when the Fukushima nuclear accident occurred on 11 March 2011. Because I love Japan. But the next time, I won't suffer anymore.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

At least they were not doing 'bucket chemistry' this time.

Yet another 'fail' by the nuclear village...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yeah I guess fans are quicker than buckets................

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am Japanese, not Italian, Russian or American. I love my country with fervor 'kokoro' and 'tamashi'. That is true emotional bond. When I hear of these things such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then Tohoku-Fukushima, and now Tokaimura, it hurts me to no end, I cry! I sob!

This nuclear stuff was HUGE mistake in first place, I resent Niels Bohr and all those evil maniacal idiot who brought this nuclear 'promise' to this planet. The problem of what to do with waste, as it has countless thousand of year of 'half-life'. I am in thousand percent support of those who protest and want to rid our country as well as our finite fragil planet of this nuclear nightmare. We have to do it and use our keitsui (determination) as a human species to once and for all work ernestly to rid this planet of this nuclear nightmare once and for all!

The time is NOW! We need to start using RENEWABLE energy and move away from fossil-fuel, nuclear, earthgas that is destructive to our biosphere. Please, let's make this sincere determination to decommission All 51 or how ever many reactors in our country and move to solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, (perhaps even in Hakone area hydro) as to put end to this horrible chapter in our history of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, TEPCO's Daiichi, and now Tokaimura. What reactor is next? If there is no sustainable planet, there is no Japan, and no life! That would be indescribaly yabai!

I don't want to cry and sob any longer, I want to be happy, anundant and healthy as all of really wish to be! Thank you

3 ( +4 / -1 )

one does not care if "100 millisieverts per year presents no statistically significant increase in cancer risk" when the recommended dosage limit by the same International Commission of Radiological Protection is one millisievert per year. Adding other comments like CT Scan dosage, airplanes, where you live, blah blah have absolutely nothing to do with an accident that should not have happened in the first place. Even the media try to play it down.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What, AGAIN?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

JHFC. Take the whole thing off them, now. As mentioned above, at least the aluminium buckets were in storage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


As you correctly stated, the problem happened in the beam line to the Hadron experiment hall.

What did happen?

Usually the proton beam from MR (Main Ring), which was cycling at a 6 second period, will be extracted by a process called slow extraction over a 2 second period. One quadrupole power supply, which controls this procedure had a problem, and for one cycle the beam was extracted in a too short time. E.g. the beam went there, where it was expected, but too high peak intensity. This gave some damage and the reported activation.

This is not at all related to a nuclear power plant. This is related to basic research in nuclear physics to find out about the nature of matter.

There is no radioactive material installed. Just a thin foil made of gold. This becomes activated, e.g. by hitting with protons, some gold atoms are changed and can become instable isotopes. Most of such activation goes down in short time (hours or days).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Real truth is hard to come by on nuclear radiation-related issues in japan these days...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Poster "No Miso" doesn't understand the concept behind the ICRP recommendations for exposure to ionizing radiations. They provide data for radiation workers and the general public. Those for radiation workers are considerably higher, but are still regarded as being perfectly safe from the point of view of radiation harm being caused. The ICRP also recommends a quite high once-in-a-lifetime exposure dose which, hopefully (my word), won't necessarily cause any radiation harm to an exposed individual.

The incident reported would appear to have been minor, not associated in any way with nuclear power, and it only became a public issue because an unprotected air fan was switched on, thus transferring a small amount of radioactive gold into the atmosphere - more of that below.

We should be aware that all people react differently to harmful vectors. One such vector, ionizing radiations, have always been around, both from outer space as cosmic radiations, and on earth itself from our natural radioactivity - uranium, thorium, and their radioactive decay products, etc. And although humankind has obviously survived that natural radiation background, traced back through millions of years of evolutionary processes, no one can say that a few individuals haven't succumbed to the harmful effects of that natural background radiation. But very few, I am sure, although I can't guess at, nor ever come across, a figure, but which will have an extremely low probability. Otherwise animate lifeforms would not have survived, let alone evolved, on Earth.

But, by the same token, various vectors have been responsible for evolutionary processes to proceed, usually by inducing some small change in the highly complex organic gene and chromosome molecular structures. Who can say what contribution to evolutionary processes have been successfully achieved by these ionizing radiation-induced changes? I would imagine quite a substantial proportion of those changes have been accidentally successful. Yes, it's an accidental process - after all, evolution is surely a trial and error process when it relies entirely on tiny changes to the structure of highly complex organic molecules? Some will be destructive to the living organism, and others will be constructive.

Where the latest incident is concerned, let me make this comment: who was so unutterably stupid to have a fan in a research laboratory where radioactive materials are both produced and used in experiments which pushes air directly into the atmosphere, with the outlet not being protected by an absolute filter and activated carbon?

Those posters who want to equate this particular laboratory work with nuclear energy and fission have got it all wrong, of course. But - except for one individual poster who was aware of the work, and has clearly described it - how are posters to know anything? I apologise in advance for being critical, but the article above in Japan Today has done a disservice to radioactivity research work in Japan because there was no attempt to include information which would have better informed readers of the circumstances of the work. It's technical, therefore a journalist surely should have tried to get in touch with a manager to give relevant brief information. Luckily, poster has done so instead. (One poster mentions a report in the "Huffington Post": USA I assume).

The idea that some posters have that all research involving radioactive materials, proton generators, etc, is all to do with nuclear power is an appalling misunderstanding of the vast benefits that the results of such work over the past 60 years has achieved, especially in medicine; understanding nuclear structure; helping to solve the mystery of the origin of the universe. Yes, of course, such aspects are of low interest to the majority of people because they are never provided with any basic information on the subject in school curricula. Just the basics are needed, that's all.

Nuclear and radiation physics per se are based on natural universal phenomena. It's the use of specific associated technologies which causes controversy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Don't spoil the boys fun let them learn the hard way.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Funny feeling there's more detail we should be getting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are stories about people who work above or below the X-Ray laboratories in hospitals getting stray exposure. I am sure it's a fact of life for people studying using nuclear science and their coworkers in the same building

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Revision: I see in another article that the above lab was the Hadron Experimental Facility at the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex in the town of Tokaimura, and I don't know if it is connected to the fast breeder reactor at the reprocessing plant where the criticality accident occurred. Both locations are listed as Tokaimura, but it isn't clear whether they are at the same place. Both sound like dumbass mistakes, in any case.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Sato Tatsuhiro: Your comment was so heartwarming! Believe me, Japan has always been very important to me, since I was a kid, in the 80s, and watched Japanese cartoons on Italian tv. Now I'm 32 years old, but my love for your country never stopped. I love your language, literature, manga, animation, music, landscapes, folkore...My affection is sincere and deep, and when the tsunami happened, I cried very much. The nuclear accident seemed like the start of a nightmare to me, because I feared to lose my beloved Japan for ever. Sadly, this nightmare is continuing, and progressively I accepted that Japan won't never be like it was before this accident anymore. I don't want to suffer for this problem anymore, specially because apparently Japan doesn't want to change, and I'm so disappointed and angry , to the extent that I thought "if they want to destroy their country, well I won't waste other tears for them". I'm hoping that there are always more Japanese people with your determination. Indeed, I feel so mad when I see that Japanese people are not doing enough to stop the nuclear village. Don't stop to fight. I want to believe in your people. Nationalism, like denying history and stuff like that, is stupid and it's only a way to distract people from real problems like this one. I wish you the best for your country, but you must fight, guys, to defend your rights; be always obedient isn't the best solution in every situation. I know it, I'm just a "gaijin" and you could think that I'm arrogant. I hope you can understand that I'm talking like that because I really care about your beautiful country. In Italy we have to fight too, to solve other problems, and I am angry as well with my own people, because I think we are too much passive! xD

Greetings from Italy! :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )


Thanks. That makes sense, and jives pretty much with an article in the Huffington Post:

"...Researchers were trying to generate particles by directing a proton beam at some gold when their equipment overheated, causing the evaporation and release of radioactive gold, the government-run JAEA said in a statement. The leak originally was thought to have been contained inside the lab, and when a ventilation fan was switched on the radiation spread, it said...."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can only imagin the conversation on Friday at the pub, WHAT A WEEK, HOPE NEXT WEEK AIN'T SO BAD. Hubby gets home from work; Wife, the weather is warming up! Hubby; You got no idaer!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The researchers were carrying out an experiment to generate particles by firing a proton beam at gold when the accident happened, it said.

Okay, so this an interesting pastime. Why does one fire proton beams at gold? Is it fun? Does something cool happen? Do all nuke plants do this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shankun, sulfuric acid is boring.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with Alex80. I am Italian too and fortunately we had the force to say no against nuclear plants. Anyway, Don't be stupified if there was nuclear bombardment in WW2 against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fukushima Daiichi Accident and this fact...I still consider the Chernobyl Accident the worst ever during the past century.

Anyway, can happen but it is better that this kind of things will never happen when handling a nuclear plant...

0 ( +0 / -0 )


"Why does one fire proton beams at gold? Is it fun? Does something cool happen? "

Good name choice.

(I'm writing this from down on the farm too.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This was only newsworthy because of the rarity of reportable nuclear accidents

No, it was newsworthy because TokaiMura, the plant in the above article, had a criticality accident because of a dumbass mistake.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

one does not care if "100 millisieverts per year presents no statistically significant increase in cancer risk" when the recommended dosage limit by the same International Commission of Radiological Protection is one millisievert per year.

Odd statement to make. So the "safety" level being 1/100th of a value that is known not to cause any ailment whatsoever is of no interest to you? Why? This is another case of really careless stuff happening when the industry should be trying to be squeaky clean. It was small, it was reported, and the press (despite your claims) jumped all over it as it adds to their "click rate" and helps justify sponsor $'s.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

one does not care if "100 millisieverts per year presents no statistically significant increase in cancer risk" when the recommended dosage limit by the same International Commission of Radiological Protection is one millisievert per year.

I bow to you omnipotent view. Would you actually care to correct me on what I said was wrong?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"51 other researchers and workers were engaged in the experiment at the facility and may also have been exposed to radiation."

Not 4 researchers, mates. 51 researchers were exposed. Only 4 were checked. The rest went home as usual to their families...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This story has developed since the original press release. As I posted above, things were indeed far worse than published.

A whole series of mistakes were made, each one of them against regulations and unbelieveable in light of what we had hoped people might have learned from Fukushima and Tokaimura last time around.

Sloppy is too good a word.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It needs to be noted that the ICRP recommendations give safe exposure data for two categories, namely the general public and another for radiation workers. (Apart from the once-in-a-lifetime emergency dose).

The limit for the general public incorporates a high safety margin. I am long retired and don;t have a copy of the ICRP regulations, so I am not familiar with their latest philosophy. But, in principle, the general public includes children, and pregnant mothers, the foetus in its developmental stage being a lot more radiation-sensitive than adults and children.

Radiation workers are - or certainly should be - under strict control, and wear film badges or whatever equivalent electronic personal doseimeters are available thee days, to maintain a surveillance on their dose accumulation. The assumption us that radiation workers work for specific controlled exposure hours per day, whereas the general population can be exposed, uncontrolled, for 24/7.

I anyone wishes to challenge what national regulatory authorities accept for safe radiation exposures, then they need to be contacted with ones concerns. But challenging the ICRP recommendations will be a tough exercise! Of course, national regulatory authorities can decide to recommend even lower dose accumulations and exposure dose rates than recommended by the ICRP.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Thank you for your comments.

About access to the Hadron hall: it is necessary to have a radiation badge and it is also necessary to attend a lecture on the risk, when working in the Hadron hall area. The badge is the access key.

Because the researcher affected were wearing badges, it was possible to find out the dose they were exposed to. The other researchers on site were probably far enough away so that their dose should be negligible.

Still this event shows that the risk assessment was not complete.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

not surprised -__-

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I did similar experiments at the Rutherford-Appleton laboratory in the UK a long time ago. In that case the experimental apparatus at the end of the beam line was in a small, radiation-proof room and you were not allowed to be in the room when the beam line was turned on. They also checked samples for radiation before you were allowed to take them home.

I visited Tokaimura some years ago and it seemed to be a similar set up. It's not clear in this case how the radiation escaped from the apparatus, or how the four people came to be exposed to it. Don't they check the radiation levels in the room before entering it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Poster "No Miso" doesn't understand the concept behind the ICRP recommendations for exposure to ionizing radiations.

You didn't actually read my post though did you?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least Bruce Banner did his experiments himself. Now, we'll soon have four big green oyaji running around...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

lol, it's even worth mentioning? That's normal thing during experiments that something goes wrong. I think that many scientists had more problem with sulfuric acid this year :P

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shooting photons at gold foil is not exactly the same as commercial nuclear fission, so don't try to link the two.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Let's be honest here : Japan is not a nation with the technical ability , know-how or safety standards to utilise nuclear power. Time to get some foreigners in to show them the way - if they insist on this dangerous power source.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This was only newsworthy because of the rarity of reportable nuclear accidents combined with a lack of scientific literacy that somehow equates this small exposure with real risk. By far the major source of radiation exposure for most people over their lifetimes is medical tests and treatments, with natural background radiation a distant second. Even factoring in Fukushima, the average human exposure from nuclear power plants over a lifetime is less than living with a smoke detector in your home, living in a brick or stone building, in the area of a coal power plant, or even eating a banana a day.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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