Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operators of the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility, said that around 4 tons of rainwater contaminated with low-level radiation leaked during an operation to transfer the water between the tank holding areas. Heavy rains from a recent typhoon had collected in the holding area of one of the storage tanks which are being used to hold the contaminated waste water used in cooling down the molten down cores of the facility.
Tests last month had showed the rainwater that collected in the area were contaminated with relatively low levels of radiation – around 160 becquerels per liter. And so TEPCO officials decided to transfer the flood water to another holding area for tanks, a spokesman for the operator said. During the transfer operation a worker had found the leak, and according to company estimates, 4 tons of the water was absorbed into the ground, the spokesman said. TEPCO and the Fukushima facility face the prospect of more heavy rain in the next few days, as another storm approaches Japan from the south. Tropical Depression Sepat is forecast to gain strength overnight and arrive in the vicinity of Fukushima by 1200 GMT on Wednesday, according to the United States Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
These problems only serve to add more pressure on the embattled operator to finally get a grip on the decommissioning process and the high-profile leaks that have hounded it since the Fukushima cleanup process started. Just recently, TEPCO admitted that around 300 tons of radioactive water are leaking daily into the Pacific Ocean, directing heavy criticism on the utility and the Japanese government on the way that the decommissioning process was being handled.