Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, admitted on Tuesday that around 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hundreds of above-ground storage tanks there, the worst leak yet from any of these storage tanks. The contaminated water is said to contain an unprecedented 80 million becquerels of radiation per liter, where a mere 150 becquerels is the normal level.
TEPCO revealed that the contaminated water leaked from a steel storage tank at the Fukushima facility, storage tanks that have been used since the underwater storage facilities that the nuclear plant had were proven to be leaking into the ground in the first place. TEPCO, as of the moment, has not figured out how or where the water leaked, but suspects that it was through a valve connected to a gutter around the tank. TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono said that the water had seeped into the ground, bypassing the piles of sandbags that were specifically added to create a concrete barrier around the tanks. TEPCO workers have been pumping out the remaining water in the tank and will transfer it to other containers.
On Monday, two dust monitors at the plant’s operations center sounded off their alarms, pointing to radiation in the air. It was discovered later that two workers had been contaminated with radioactive particles. Full body checks on the employees fortunately revealed no internal contamination and so they were allowed to go home. Apart from the multiple leaks and radiation issues, TEPCO’s decommissioning of the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant has encountered a major obstacle, as it was recently discovered that the radiation levels at Fukushima Bay – the body of water adjacent to the nuclear plant – have been steadily increasing and at its highest this month. TEPCO had belatedly admitted that radioactive water was indeed leaking into the Pacific Ocean, a late admission that has made the embattled utility a target for local and even international criticism.
[via New York Times]