Fukushima: radioactive water leaking into sea

Tokyo Electric Power Company gets flak for keeping silent about leaks in the past

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Wednesday 07 August 2013

Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is facing a new emergency. The radioactive water kept stored inside the plant has started leaking into the sea, says Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the country’s nuclear watchdog last week.

A barrier built by its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), to contain the water inside the plant has been breached, says the nuclear authority. Tepco had adopted a series of measures to contain the leak but has been unsuccessful. The watchdog has criticised Tepco for maintaining silence over the leaks in the past. Shinji Kinjo, head of Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force, has been quoted by media saying that the measures taken by Tepco such as pumping out the water and putting it in storage tanks were temporary. “Tepco’s sense of crisis has been weak. And now we have an emergency situation,” said Kinjo. 

The contaminated water is thought to have come from the 400 tonnes of groundwater pumped into the plant every day to cool the reactors. Tepco admitted to the media last week that a cumulative 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the tsunami and earthquake hit the nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Tepco says that it is planning a new set of measures to contain the breach. The ideas including building a shield of frozen soil around the reactors are being put forth from all sides to prevent the contamination. But there are no concrete solutions right now.

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