With another radioactive substance found in the groundwater of Fukushima nuclear power plant, releasing water into the ocean has become even more unlikely for the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). Strontium, described by Britannica as “the principal health hazard in radioactive fallout,” was found to be abundant in the groundwater of the Fukushima nuclear facility, said its utility on Wednesday.
The increase of Strontium-90 level from December last year until last month was discovered after a test of groundwater outside power plant No. 2 was done. The test revealed the increase to be 100 times within the five-month period. Toshihiko Fukuda, a general manager at TEPCO, believed that Strontium-90 got mixed with the groundwater and through the turbine building, the substance has leaked out.
Strontium-90 has a 28 year half-life and if not properly removed may impose decades of radiation injury. TEPCO has been trying to persuade fishermen to allow them to release groundwater into the ocean. With the continuous discovery of high level radioactive substances in the nuclear power plant’s compound, TEPCO should not be expecting to have their green light soon. Fukuda also said that Tritium was found to be equally abundant. Although considered less harmful, Tritium may still cause potential hazard when “taken into the body,” according to a study by R.V. Osborne in 2007.
The discovery has prompted nuclear chemist Michiaki Furukawa to warn TEPCO. “This contaminated water should not be released to the ocean.” Furukawa, also a former Nagoya University professor, told the power company to keep the contaminated water somewhere “so that it can’t escape outside the plant.”