News & AnalysisRadiation Safety

Accelerator Leak Halts Japanese Physics Experiments

Science  07 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6137, pp. 1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6137.1155

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A beam malfunction at the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Tokai, Japan, on 23 May released radioactive material into an experimental hall. Operators then vented the hall, contaminating the environment. The J-PARC facility has been shut down for an investigation. The amount of radiation involved was small (the two most exposed workers received doses of about 1.7 millisieverts, equivalent to a high-dose medical x-ray). But the handling of the accident raises new questions about safety procedures in a nation still nervous about radiation following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

  • * With reporting by Adrian Cho.