According to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) – operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant – levels of radioactivity in a well near a storage tank that has leaked in the past have increased tremendously on Thursday. TEPCO revealed on Friday that their monitoring instruments detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta-emitting radioactive substances – including strontium – at the site. This level is 6,500 times higher than readings taken a day earlier, according to reports.
This ditch is near the storage tank that has leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water in August. This issue became one of TEPCO’s widely-publicized gaffes, as they initially said that none of the water was reaching the Pacific Ocean, only to belatedly admit the opposite days after; the radioactive waste water had found its way into the sea through the ditch. The well in question is around 10 meters from the tank and was dug to gauge leakage. TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected.
This news comes after reports that the record Typhoon Wipha, which had swept through Japan on Wednesday, had led to highly radioactive water near the crippled nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea. Officials at TEPCO said that the ditch was part of their efforts to remove any contaminated soil around the storage tank, and are used to monitor radioactivity levels of the water around the well. On Wednesday, TEPCO reported that it had detected high levels of radiation in one of these wells leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected that the heavy rains caused by the typhoon had moved the contaminated soil.