Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority has said, on Monday, there is a new emergency at the Fukushima nuclear plant, thanks to a build-up of radioactive ground-water. Highly radioactive water has leaked into the ocean after an underground barrier was breached, the water is rising towards the surface, and is exceeding legal limits for radioactive discharge.
Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters that the countermeasures being planned by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) are only temporary, that TEPCO isn’t treat the situation as a crisis, that “Right now, we have an emergency,” and that “you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone” to address the emergency.
TEPCO has been widely criticized for failing to properly prepare for a disaster like the one which struck the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011, creating the nuclear crisis.
To keep nuclear material in the damaged nuclear plant from overheating, the company is currently pumping 400 metric tons of ground water into the basements of ruined buildings within the plant’s facilities. Recent spikes of radioactivity in sea water has forced TEPCO to admit tainted water is making its way into the sea. Investigators do not yet know how extensive the leakage is, and whether or not the water has made its way outside a bay near the plant.
To try and prevent prevent more leaks into the bay, workers at the Fukushima plant created an underground barrier by injecting chemicals to harden the ground along the shoreline of the No. 1 reactor building. But the barrier has been breached, allowing water to leak.
On Monday, a TEPCO official said the company is planning to increase the rate of water pumping. On July 31, 2013 the company released a study about the storage and treatment of contaminated water in the Fukushima plant. This study said that to reduce the risk of leaking contaminated water into the ocean, they must maintain water levels at a higher depth than currently is the case.
The nuclear regulatory task force met on Friday to discuss the situation at the plant, and concluded immediate action, and new measures, was required to stop radioactive water leakage into the ocean.
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