New highly radioactive leak at Japan's Fukushima plant

TOKYO Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:40am EST

1 of 2. Highly contaminated water leaked from a large storage tank is seen at the H6 area of the contaminated water storage tanks, at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture in this February 20, 2014 handout photo released by TEPCO.

Credit: Reuters/Tokyo Electric Power Co/Handout via Reuters

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday that 100 metric tons of highly contaminated water had leaked out of a tank, the worst incident since last August, when a series of radioactive water leaks sparked international alarm.

Tokyo Electric Power Co told reporters the latest leak was unlikely to have reached the ocean. But news of the leak at the site, devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, further undercut public trust in a utility rocked by a string of mishaps and disclosure issues.

"We are taking various measures, but we apologize for worrying the public with such a leak," said Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for the utility, also known as Tepco.

"Water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area."

Tepco said water overflowed from a large storage tank at the site late on Wednesday after a valve had remained open by mistake and sent too much contaminated water into a separate holding area.

A worker patrolling the area, around 700 meters from the ocean, spotted drips of water leaking through a drain attached to the side of the tank.

The utility has been harshly criticized for its response to the three nuclear meltdowns following the quake and tsunami at the plant, 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo.

A nuclear regulatory official last week said Tepco delayed release of record-high measurements of strontium-90 in groundwater despite repeated requests by the regulator.

Initial measurements of the latest incident showed the leaked water had a reading of 230 million becquerels per liter of beta-emitting radioactive isotopes, including strontium 90.

That level is almost equal to that recorded in last year's leak of 300 metric tons of contaminated water, deemed a "serious incident", or level three, on the seven-point international scale for radiological releases.

The legal limit for releasing strontium 90 into the ocean is 30 becquerels per liter.

(Additional reporting by Kentaro Hamada; Editing by Dominic Lau and Ron Popeski)

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Comments (6)
j4jure wrote:
There is no end to TEPCO’s incompetence, yet the international public seems to just stand by and not care that these morons are poisoning the soil and ocean for all of us together with our descendats.The IAEA is cleary there to protect nuclear energy not the planet but one would think at least the people would give a damn.

Feb 20, 2014 6:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
tatman wrote:
japans utter incompetence and failure to contain and manage this disaster is a shame on the entire planet. as j4ure so rightly pointed out, this mega catastrophe is creating global consequences, and NOTHING is being done by the international community to contain this nuclear abomination. japan needs to be held responsible for this disaster that is poisoning a region, infecting our oceanic system, and wreaking environmental damage for centuries to come. shame on the world for sitting by and protecting a corporation and negligent government, while nuclear contamination spreads like the cancer.

Feb 20, 2014 7:47am EST  --  Report as abuse
yrbmegr wrote:
Hopefully the CDC has a plan for when radioactivity starts showing up in our water and our seafood.

Feb 20, 2014 8:18am EST  --  Report as abuse
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