Fukushima fallout: Radiation could kill in 20 minutes

If there was any question about the deadly nature of the Fukushima nuclear plant's meltdown three years ago, it is pretty clear now.

The levels of radiation in the area have set a new record for outdoor exposure, Japanese media reported.

It is so bad that in some areas just 20 minutes of exposure is fatal.

That's the horrific legacy of the earthquake that sent large tidal waves towards the Japanese coast, leaving thousands dead and an area completely devastated.

Three of the six reactors at Fukushima went critical during the incident, and tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the region surrounding the nuclear power plant.

Japanese authorities are desperately trying to keep the uranium cores from overloading, and the part of the plant where the extreme levels of radiation were found was in one of the pipes dedicated to keeping the cores cool.

In two areas, the tests found levels at 25 Sieverts (Sv) per hour and about 15 Sieverts per hour, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said.

The specific areas were a 120-metre tall ventilation pipe and at a duct that connects the reactor buildings.

This exceeded the last highest recorded Sv amount of about 10 at the same pipe.

To put it into perspective, two Sv per hour is considered serious radiation poisoning, while six Sv results in a 100% mortality rate.

The clean-up of the disaster is expected to take at least a decade.

More than 400 litres of contaminated water is being created daily, and the clean-up team are rapidly running out of space to put it.

It has concerned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so much that it is considering releasing treated water into the pacific.

"Regarding the growing amounts of contaminated water at the site, TEPCO should... examine all options for its further management, including the possibility of resuming controlled discharges (into the sea) in compliance with authorized limits," the IAEA said in a statement.

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