The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that 100 metric tons of highly contaminated water leaked from the site of its crippled nuclear power plant at Fukushima. The water apparently came from a storage tank where a valve had been left open. TEPCO said that it had stopped the leak and was confident that the water had not reached the ocean.
"We are taking various measures, but we apologize for worrying the public with such a leak," said Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for TEPCO, according to Al-Jazeera America. "Water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area."
Tests show that the leaked water measured 230 million becquerels per liter of radioactive isotopes, a measurement of radioactivity. That figure is almost as high as what was recorded last year when TEPCO allowed 300 metric tons of contaminated water to leak in what was called a “serious incident.”
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In early February TEPCO revised upwards its readings of radioactive strontium in groundwater from a well at the site. The record-high 5 million becquerels per liter it recorded were over 5 times greater than its previous estimate of 900,000 becquerels. It said the previous readings were erroneous because of malfunctioning equipment.
TEPCO has struggled to control the site, and has resorted to storing massive amounts of radioactive water in storage tanks. The company needs to pour hundreds of tons of water on the reactors every day in order to keep them cool. That means it has to store an additional 400 tons of radioactive water each day – equivalent to the amount of water that a typical American household uses in a year. The cleanup could cost $100 billion and may take the next 40 years to complete.
By Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com