TOKYO: A new radioactive water leak has been discovered at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and has flowed into the Pacific Ocean, its operator said yesterday.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said the highly radioactive water, which includes up to 580,000 becquerels per litre, had leaked at the Fukushima No. 1 plant from a different storage tank to the one where a leak was found in August, it said.
Some 430 litres of the toxic water had leaked from one of 450-tonne tanks due to the heavy rainfall brought by recent typhoons, a Tepco official said, admitting that “contaminated water may well have flowed into the sea”. The tank holds water filtered to remove caesium but still containing strontium which accumulates in bones and can cause cancer, if consumed.
The contamination level compares with government limits of 100 becquerels per kilogramme in food and 10 becquerels per litre in drinking water. A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity.
Later, a Tepco official said the flow was halted after a tonne of contaminated water was transferred from the leaking tank to a new storage container, Jiji news agency reported.
According to the report, the leak began at around 8.40am on Wednesday and was halted by 3.30pm yesterday afternoon. Tepco has long struggled to control waste water at the plant ever since the earthquake and tsunami caused some of Fukushima’s reactors to melt down.
The company poured thousands of tonnes of water onto runaway reactors to keep them cool, and continues to douse them.