Japan's quake-crippled nuclear plant "losing faith" in leaking water pits

TOKYO Tue Apr 9, 2013 7:39am EDT

1 of 2. An aerial view shows Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture March 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) - The company that runs a Japanese nuclear power plant destroyed by a tsunami two years ago said on Tuesday it was losing faith in temporary storage pits for radioactive water - but it doesn't have anywhere else to put it.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said it had found a new leak at one of the pits at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Three out of seven storage pits are now leaking, compounding clean-up difficulties after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

"We cannot deny the fact that our faith in the underwater tanks is being lost," Tepco general manager Masayuki Ono told a hastily arranged news conference.

"We can't move all the contaminated water to above ground (tanks) if we opt not to use the underground reservoirs," Ono said. "There isn't enough capacity and we need to use what is available."

A tsunami crashed into the power plant north of Tokyo on March 11, 2011, causing fuel-rod meltdowns at three reactors, radioactive contamination of air, sea and food and triggering the evacuation of 160,000 people.

The fresh leak was found in the No. 1 storage pool where contaminated water from the leaking No. 2 pit was being transferred. Tepco has halted the transfer of the contaminated water.

Ono said on Monday Tepco did not have enough tank space should it need to move the water out of the storage pits, which were dug into higher ground away from the damaged reactors and lined with waterproof material. The company has stepped up construction of the sturdier tanks, he said.

Tepco said over the weekend about 120,000 liters (32,000 gallons) of contaminated water leaked from the No. 2 and 3 pits. The plant's cooling system has also broken down twice in recent weeks.

The government instructed Tepco to carry out a "fundamental" review of the problems at the plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Monday.

Tepco's president, Naomi Hirose, was also summoned to the Industry Ministry to explain the leaks and got a public dressing down from the minister, Toshimitsu Motegi.

Immediately after the explosions at the plant, Tepco released some radioactive water into the sea, prompting protests from neighboring countries. Many nations put restrictions on imports of Japanese food after the disaster.

It was the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Last month, a senior Tepco executive said the company was struggling to stop groundwater flooding into the damaged reactor buildings and it may take as long as four years to fix the problem.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori, Risa Maeda and Mari Saito; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Nick Macfie)

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Comments (7)
Bixbyte wrote:
Turning into exactly what I thought. A radioactive waste nightmare of epic proportions. Half life for the Radioactive decay will be over 3 billion years.

Apr 09, 2013 3:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
VonHell wrote:
But at the begining the radioactive water was not flowing or been dumped directly into the sea? what explains the absurd levels on samples of fish next the power plant they collect some times?…
With 3 reactors melted and the water barely sustained by the concrete vessels inside flooded basements…mmm Tepco doesnt need to lose faith because i doubt the public ever had faith they fully contained that thing… despit some politicians making an appearance show there time to time “urgind” and “vowing” “speed up” the cleaning process…
I wonder about the wereabouts of the former CEO who steped down to face err “criminal charges”…

Apr 09, 2013 4:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Slammy wrote:
This is bad but the country was bombed with two nukes and recovered fine… Surely this will pass as well… Isn’t there a way to deradiate the water?

Apr 09, 2013 7:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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