Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the utility company that operates the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power facility, has on Sunday released estimate figures on how much radiation-contaminated water has leaked out of its facility, the first such data the company has released to the public since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused a multiple reactor meltdown at the facility. TEPCO estimates the total amount of radioactive water leaked into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011 to be between 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels.
Last month, the embattled operator confirmed the suspicions of ocean contamination held by the public and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The NRA had earlier said that it doubted TEPCO’s continued claims at that time that the toxic water was contained safely in the facility. Of these current numbers, TEPCO said that the scale of the radioactive leak from May 2011 to July 2013 was still around the allowed level under safety regulations before the accident, which was set at 22 trillion becquerels annually. TEPCO said that it would also be estimating the amount of strontium – another byproduct of the decommissioning process which is unfortunately cancer-causing – that may have also leaked out over the years.
TEPCO currently faces huge clean-up responsibilities, as well as compensation costs. The company has continued to struggle with multiple issues regarding the decommissioning, especially with the massive amount of radioactive water accumulating as coolant to the melted down reactors. This, coupled with TEPCO’s own propensity to hide facts to save face, has caused foreign nuclear experts to bluntly criticize TEPCO’s handling of the radioactive leaks. “These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing,” said Dale Klein, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “(It shows) you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people.”
[via IOL Scitech]