Sarkozy will head for Japan on Thursday, where he will have talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Sarkozy’s office said in a statement Tuesday. He will go on behalf of the Group of 20 leading world economies. France is currently the chair of the G-20.
TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Co., and owner of the plant) asked for help in solving the critical problems at Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant from France’s nuclear industry. More than 70 percent of France’s electricity comes from atomic reactors. The country has been active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are also a major export.
France’s Industry Minister Eric Besson said three groups would be involved in providing assistance – Electricité de France, (EDF), the nuclear group Areva and the atomic agency commission.
EDF, which manages France’s 58 nuclear reactors, said March 18 that the three groups were preparing to send Japan specialized equipment including robots. However, a spokesman for Besson said Tepco’s latest request was a different issue.
High-Level Radiation Discovered in Trench Outside Fukushima Reactor
Radioactive water has been filling up in underground trenches connected to reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.
Japan’s safety agency said the levels of water in the trenches, about 55 to 70 meters away from the shore, have been stable and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Co., and plant operator) has taken measures to stop the water from seeping out.
Radiation levels exceeding 1,000 millisieverts per hour were found in the water in the trench outside reactor No. 2′s building. TEPCO said it was likely the water originated from the reactor’s core, where fuel rods have partially melted.
Radiation levels of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, people could suffer a drop in the count of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, in 30 minutes, and about half would die within 30 day by remaining in this condition for four hours.
Plutonium found in soil around Fukushima plant
Plutonium was found in soil around Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co and plant operator) said on Monday. The test results showing the plutonium came from samples taken a week ago.
The government issued a warning about the potential health hazards from the plant’s reactors, about 150 miles northeast of Tokyo.
”There is a big risk [to human health] at the moment,” said Yukio Edano, top government spokesman.
Workers continue to struggle to cool overheating reactors but were set back by pools of highly radioactive water leaking from the power plant into the soil and the ocean.
Sakae Muto, vice president of TEPCO, said the trace amounts of plutonium are similar to those found in the past in other parts of Japan from airborne particles carried by atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s.
“I apologize for making people worried,” Sakae Muto, vice-president of TEPCO, said at a briefing around midnight in Tokyo”
What is Plutonium?
Plutonium is a metallic chemical element classified among the actinides on the periodic table of elements, according to wise Geek. This highly radioactive element is used primarily in weapons and nuclear power plants. In nature, plutonium is relatively rare, occurring in uranium rich ores in trace amounts; most of the world’s working supply of this element is obtained through neutron bombardment of uranium, a close neighbor on the periodic table.
“When plutonium is isolated, its appearance may vary, because it has six allotropic forms, meaning that the element has six different structures under normal conditions. These forms vary in terms of density, although they all share the basic chemical properties of toxicity, radioactivity, and reactivity with many other elements. Most forms of plutonium are silvery-gray, but they oxidize to a dull yellow over time. Quantities which are large enough are also warm to the touch, due to the alpha particles they emit as they age.
Meanwhile, a large quantity of highly radioactive water was detected outside reactor No. 2 yesterday at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, raising the possibility of the toxic water leaking into the ocean just 55 meters away.
The water, located in a trench and shaft, has a radioactivity level of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, the same level detected in water soaking the basement of the unit’s turbine building, according to government officials.