430 liters of toxic water leak from Fukushima plant, some into ocean
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that about 430 liters of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the tanks at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex the previous day, some of which flowed into the Pacific Ocean.
While it was not clear exactly how much contaminated water had leaked into the sea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga maintained the government's view that the situation is "under control as a whole" during a regular press conference held in the morning.
The leak was observed from the top panel of the 450-ton tank after TEPCO tried to fill it with as much water as possible due to fears the utility may run out of containers for storing the massive amount of radioactive water that is increasing daily at the nuclear complex.
The tank is one of five standing on a slight slope. TEPCO had to take the tilt into account when transferring water, but failed to secure enough space to prevent a spill from the top panel, which is not water-tight, TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told a separate press conference.
Some of the leaked water is believed to have fallen inside a water barrier set up around the five tanks so that contamination will not spread further outside when leaks occur.
But about 430 liters of radioactive water is estimated to have leaked outside the barrier by moving along the foothold attached to the tank and found its way into a nearby side ditch, which is connected to a drainage channel.
The water in the tank contains 580,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances including strontium 90. The legal limit of strontium 90 is 30 Bq per liter.
TEPCO is storing over 300,000 tons of radioactive water in tanks as a result of continuing water injections into the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The utility has also recently started storing rainwater that has accumulated inside the water barriers around the tanks if the radiation level exceeds the legal criteria.
TEPCO was transferring water inside the barriers to the tank when the leak occurred Wednesday. It was raining due to a typhoon and TEPCO wanted to avoid having the rainwater flow over the 30-centimeter-high barrier, Ono said.
In August, TEPCO said 300 tons of highly radioactive water escaped from a tank located in a different area at the site, some of which is also believed to have flowed into the ocean. The liquid was tainted with 80 million Bq per liter of radioactive material emitting beta rays.
Facing growing concerns over the plant operator's lax handling of toxic water, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the international community in September that the situation is "under control" and that the influence of toxic water "is completely restricted to within the 0.3-square-kilometer area of the plant's port."
October 03, 2013(Mainichi Japan)