Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, announced on Friday that the tritium levels in the groundwater near the tanks have reached their highest level so far, at 97,000 becquerels per liter on Wednesday from the 64,000 measured the day before. The good news is that the beta readings at the same location have slightly gone down from 2,000 to just 1,500 becquerels.
The discovery of the 300-ton leak of radioactive water last month has worried not just the residents and the local government, but even the international community. It has been suspected that the contaminated water that leaked from the storage tank may have seeped into the Pacific Ocean, but the effect it will have on the environment and the fishing industry is still unknown at this time. Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen and while it doesn’t cause any significant external damage, it is still a radiation hazard if inhaled or ingested via food or water. The experts believe the tritium came from the radioactive water that leaked from the tank.
This new spike in radiation levels will effectively put on hold TEPCO‘s plan to build a bypass that would route the groundwater into the ocean, a move that has been opposed by the local fishermen as it would sorely affect their livelihood. They say that even if the government says they will bring down the water level to below the legal limits before releasing it into the ocean, it will never be an acceptable solution for them.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]