The situation at Fukushima Daiichi is prompting workers and officials to yet again change their stance on the status of the crippled nuclear power plant. Due to recent spikes in radioactivity in groundwater around the reactors, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has said that it strongly suspects that contaminated water is leaking directly into the Pacific, a serious problem with international implications long suspected by experts.
While TEPCO has admitted that contaminated water has escaped into the Pacific Ocean on multiple occasions in the past, they have generally failed to acknowledge that there is a constant flow of contaminated water into the ocean. The utility has been reporting spikes in cesium levels in groundwater since May of this year from a coastal observation pit, but had denied that contaminated water was reaching the sea. The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has often been criticized for not providing enough data or explanations for the spikes in radioactivity in the wells or for their lack of explanations as to why different monitoring wells were reporting such varied levels. Until the most recent spikes in Cesium, Strontium, and Tritium in the monitoring wells, TEPCO officials had been explaining that the groundwater on-site was expected to be only contaminated with low levels of contamination. They have not explained why the cesium levels have increased; only alluding that they will continue to monitor the situation to determine a cause.
“We still don’t know why the level of radiation surged, but we are continuing efforts to avert further expansion of contamination,”
Officials from the NRC looked at the same data and contradicted TEPCO officials, concluding that the water had in fact likely reached the ocean. The NRA said that they assume that the recently discovered high concentrations of radioactive hot spots in the waters of the port indicate that highly contaminated water is leaking out of the reactor buildings, into the soil, and then escaping into the ocean.
In response to these findings, the NRA has elected to form a working group which will focus on studying ways to prevent the contaminated water from working its way into the ocean. Experts in Japan are putting additional pressure on TEPCO to manage the situation, requesting that the utility regain control of the groundwater, dig more observation wells, and monitor outflow as it makes its’ way into the sea.
Source: JiJi Press
Source: ABC News