TOKYO Aug 5 Radioactive groundwater at Japan's
crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has likely risen above an
underground barrier meant to contain it, presenting an
"emergency" that the plant's operator is not sufficiently
addressing, a regulatory watchdog official said on Monday.
This contaminated groundwater is likely seeping into the
sea, exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, and a
workaround planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co will only
forestall the growing problem temporarily, Shinji Kinjo, head of
a Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force, told Reuters.
"Right now we have a state of emergency," Kinjo said, saying
there is a "rather high possibility" that the radioactive
wastewater has breached the barrier and is rising towards the
ground's surface, Kinjo said.
A Tepco official said the utility was taking various
measures to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the bay
near the plant.
It was not immediately clear how much of a threat the
possible increase in contaminated groundwater could cause. In
the weeks following the 2011 disaster that destroyed the plant,
the Japanese government allowed Tepco to dump tens of thousands
of tonnes of contaminated water into the nearby Pacific Ocean in
an emergency move.
The toxic water release was heavily criticised by
neighbouring countries as well as local fishermen and the
utility has since promised it would not dump irradiated water
without the consent of local townships.