Work at Fukushima Daiichi overwhelmed by contaminated water

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Fukushima Daiichi Storage Tank Inspections

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the utility which owns and manages the cleanup at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant admitted earlier this summer that highly contaminated water was leaking from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.  TEPCO has estimated that some 10 trillion becquerels of strontium and 20 trillion becquerels of cesium have leaked into the Pacific Ocean since May of 2011, but that figure is expected to grow because TEPCO has failed to stop the flow of radioactive water into the sea and also because the radioactive elements are easily absorbed into the soil.

This week, the utility also admitted that contaminated water with dangerously high levels of radiation was leaking from storage tanks which are littered around the site.  One tank in particular was found to have leaked some 300 tons of highly radioactive water.  Each of the storage tanks are over 35 feet tall, store up to 1,000 tons of wastewater, are made of steel plates which are bolted together rather than welded, and have no system available for monitoring the water levels inside each tank.  Utility figures estimate that 10 tons of contaminated water leaked from the storage tank each day for the last 30 days.  Experts are criticizing TEPCO for not checking the tanks for leaks more frequently.

Japan’s nuclear safety regulator has admitted that it fears the disaster is beyond TEPCO’s ability to deal with.  After TEPCO’s announcement of the leaks from the storage tanks, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority instructed the utility to immediately expand its inspection of storage tanks.  On Wednesday night, the NRA conducted an emergency meeting to discuss the recently reported leaks.

During additional inspections, TEPCO workers found other storage tanks with high radiation levels of 100 millisieverts and 70 millisieverts per hour, recorded around their base.  The utility is continuing to conduct inspections of 350 other similar water-storage tanks.  Members from the NRA will inspect the tanks on Friday.

Source: The Japan Times

Source: VOA News

Source: NHK

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