Another contaminated water leak at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant

TOKYO Wed Jun 5, 2013 3:21am EDT

A laboratory technician chops an anchovy, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while preparing it for cesium testing at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A laboratory technician chops an anchovy, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while preparing it for cesium testing at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said it had found another leak of contaminated water on Wednesday, piling pressure on the utility to curb the problem as it seeks permission to release water to the sea.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami more than two years ago, triggering nuclear reactor meltdowns and explosions.

Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, said a worker patrolling the area spotted the leak just after noon, with droplets of contaminated water leaking out between the tank's circular steel structure.

Shunichi Tanaka, chief of Japan's new nuclear regulator, set up after its predecessor was discredited in the 2011 disaster, told a news conference that Tepco should deal with the problem immediately. But he said the regulator did not regard the matter as serious.

The latest leak was acknowledged after Tepco said earlier this week it had detected radioactive cesium in groundwater flowing into the plant -- overturning an early finding that contamination was negligible.

A spate of similar incidents and power outages plagued the facility in March and April. The incidents represent another setback for the company as it tries to reassure the public and the government that it can manage the problem of tainted water.

The plant's still precarious state also serves as a reminder of the poor management of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government presses ahead with a drive to export Japan's nuclear technology.

The discovery that groundwater is being contaminated before it enters the damaged reactor buildings complicates efforts to persuade local authorities and fishermen that the groundwater is safe enough to be dumped into the ocean.

About 400 metric tons (441 tons) of groundwater flow daily into the reactor buildings only to be mixed with highly contaminated water that comes from cooling the melted fuel.

The government ordered Tepco last week to increase storage capacity of water tanks and construct a wall of frozen earth around the four reactor buildings to stem the flow of groundwater seeping into the plant.

Leaks were found in underground storage pits in April, prompting Tepco to speed up the construction of sturdier above-ground tanks. The leak discovered on Wednesday was from one of the sturdier tanks.

Tepco is also trying to construct a bypass that would route the water away from the plant and into the ocean. That plan requires the agreement of fishermen who oppose plans to dump 100 metric tons of groundwater a day from the plant into the sea.

(Reporting by Mari Saito, Risa Maeda and Kenichiro Hamada; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Comments (2)
Narvik wrote:
NUCLEAR PLANTS: Another “Sociopathic Rush to Profits” where the participants can’t see further than their First Dollar of Profit!It could happen here. And if it does, God help us! Man is Polluting himself out of existence and I am an optimist!If you think that damage to other Nuclear Plants, wherever they might be located, can’t hurt us here in the US, you had better think again! We all share the same Air and the same Oceans. As we are both Downwind, as well as Downstream, from others Nuclear problems, their problems are also the World’s problems in the long run! Nuclear Plant Problems are not local Problems, they are Global Problems!
Man is in way over his head with Nuclear Plants, INTELLECTUALLY, TECHNOLOGICALLY, SAFETY WISE AND PERSONNEL WISE. Nuclear Plants are, and will remain, “Structural Frankenstein’s” with GREED as the Contractor!
They pose constant Unknown, Unforeseen and Unimaginable dangers to ourselves and our Environment due, among other things, to UNPREDICTABLE and UNCONTROLLABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS. They are not,
in my opinion, a reasonable or economical solution to our energy problems. By the time we find this out, it will be too late! We began to see evidence of their potential danger, which we seem to have ignored, at the Three Mile Island Plant and Chernobyl. Fukushima is showing us just how dangerous -and we are DOWNWIND AND DOWNSTREAM from Fukushima, Japan! And, may God help us, we haven’t seen anything yet! Nor have we yet to see -and hopefully, not experience, the ultimate consequences of the Fukushima Disaster! What Unknown and Unimaginable potential danger do the Tanks at Fukushima holding 50 MILLION GALLONS of Radioactive Waste Water pose for the rest of the world when these Tanks ROT -and they will eventually ROT, and release that Radioactive Water? Maybe DUMP it into the Pacific? It occurs to me more and more, that Technology, with its concomitant GREED, will eventually be our undoing! WHERE are we going to store OUR Continuing and Growing volumes of Nuclear Waste? This is already posing an questionable Question. As IT CAN’T BE REUSED AND IT CAN’T BE RECLAIMED, what are
we going to store it in? Have we found any Containers yet that won’t ROT? ROTTING CONTAINERS put, not only our Environment, but our Ground Water Supply as well, at an Unrecoverable Risk. As Fukushima is proving right now! And once gone, Neither are Recoverable. If we’re still around, and continuing to “screw up”as we have, we are also going to run out of storage areas at some point in time! GREED is not only taking this Country down, but it is going to Wipe Us the hell Out. When are we going to learn that GREED and SAFETY do not, or ever will, mix!

Jun 06, 2013 11:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Narvik wrote:
Programed “Leaks” are becoming the rule of the day for the unuseable by-products products of the Nuclear, Petroleum, Chemical and Plastics industries!.
Too expensive for any paid haul-away. Hurts their “Bottom Lines” don’t you know.

Jun 06, 2013 7:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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