More than two years after the earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, contaminated radioactive waters unable to be contained, are leaking into the Pacific ocean.
According to the Washington Post, “the looming crisis is potentially far greater than the discovery earlier this week of a leak from a tank that stores contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. That 300-ton leak is the fifth and most serious from a tank since the March 2011 disaster, when three of the plant’s reactors melted down.”
Experts fear that radioactive seepage from both the reactor and turbine building is “much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions.”
TEPCO has set up a makeshift system “of pipes and hoses” in attempts to funnel the contaminated water back into the broken reactors. “The radioactive water is then treated and stored in the aboveground tanks that have now developed leaks. But far more water leaks into the reactor basements during the cooling process — then through cracks into the surrounding earth and groundwater.”
While fishing is already banned in most of the area, recent water samples had led fishing operations in nearby Iwaki City to become hopeful that they’d be able to resume fishing within the next month. But the tank leak has thwarted any plans of fishing. And with the spreading of the radioactive water deep into the Pacific, fishing operations further out to sea is ill advised at this point as well. “Scientists, pointing to stubbornly high radioactive cesium levels in bottom-dwelling fish since the disaster, had for some time suspected the plant was leaking radioactive water into the ocean,” reports the Post. “Tepco denied that until last month, when it acknowledged contaminated water has been leaking into the ocean from early in the crisis.”
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: IAEA Imagebank