Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, to prioritize and hurry up the building of the seawall that should protect the ocean from the radioactive, contaminated groundwater coming from the plant.
The original target date for completion is March 2015, but at the rate of the rising levels of toxic substances, the power utility is strongly urged to finish it as soon as possible and to remove the contaminated water from the trenches of the plant. They suspect that the toxic substances may already be seeping into the ocean. TEPCO announced this week that the levels of cesium 137 are at 22,000 becquerels per liter, which is already 244 times more than the level that is considered safe. The levels of cesium 134 are also at dangerous levels, from 9,000 to 11,00 becquerels per liter, when nuclear safety levels require it to be at 60 per liter. TEPCO still has not provided an explanation as to the rapid increase in radiation levels and why there are different readings from the various monitoring wells.
This once again raises a lot of concerns over the capability of TEPCO to contain and clean-up all the fallout from the 2011 nuclear meltdown at the plant, the worst in recent history after Chernobyl. Just last week, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said that they plan to seek permission to restart the two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant under the new safety guidelines released by the NRA. Various local officials and civic groups are protesting this move, since they have not as yet been able to effectively control the situation at Fukushima.
[ via Businessweek ]