Tepco finds second pit leaking in Fukushima

Seepage minor but casts doubt on radioactive storage strategy


A second underground storage pool is leaking radioactive water at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.

The first pool, No. 2, was found to have leaked 120 tons of highly radioactive water on Friday. The size of the leak at the second pool, No. 3, was confirmed at 3 liters late Sunday. The leaks are likely to force Tepco to review its storage strategy for the toxic water, which has become its biggest enemy.

Since the leak is small, there are no plans to drain pool No. 3 into another storage area as is being done with pool No. 2, Tepco said.

The pools are part of a group of seven vast clay-lined storage pits at the plant measuring 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and 6 meters deep. Since each is covered in three layers of protective waterproof lining, how the water escaped will remain a mystery until the faulty pits are drained and examined.

Tepco said Saturday it detected just 0.11 becquerel of radioactive substances emitting beta particles, such as strontium, per cubic centimeter of groundwater found outside the external lining of pit No. 3 the same day. The radiation level was about double that detected Wednesday.

At that time, the utility said the water leaked by pit No. 2 may have seeped into the soil surrounding No. 3, where the second case of leakage was found. But after detecting substances exhibiting 2,200 becquerels of radioactivity in water found between the second and third layers of lining at No. 3 on Sunday, the utility concluded that this pit was leaking as well. The reasons behind the radiation discrepancies were not explained.

The water level inside pool No. 3, however, hasn’t fallen, indicating the leak isn’t that large, Tepco said.

Tepco is transferring the remaining water in No. 2 to two other pits, but the water escaping from No. 3 is raising questions about the integrity of all of the pools and the subsequent risk to the environment.

Aside from the pools, the power plant has been building makeshift tanks to store the tainted seawater, which is perpetually needed to cool the damaged reactors’ melted fuel rods. But capacity is running out quickly.

Masayuki Ono, a senior Tepco official, said at a news conference Sunday that it is difficult for the plant to store all of the radioactive water in the temporary tanks.

On Saturday, Tepco said that around 120 tons of contaminated water with an estimated 710 billion becquerels of radioactivity probably leaked into the ground under the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. No explanation was given about where it might have ended up.

“It is the largest amount of radioactive substances that has been leaked” since the crippled facility’s cold shutdown was declared in December 2011, Tepco official Masayuki Ono said.

The utility said the remainder of the water in pool No. 2 — an enormous 13,000 tons — is being pumped into other tanks nearby — a process expected to take days.

  • @dongiuj

    I don’t know how but need to sort out this whole mess, shut down this company completely, get them to pay for all damages and go about shutting down all nuclear power stations and seriously make the change to renewable fuel supplies.

    • Al

      renewable? nonsense.

      i’m against the atomic energy too – it’s making to many very toxic waste, but the current renewable energy sources are just hoax – for example the wind energy by the efficiency is worst than any natural gas power plant – the best solution to get energy. Wind turbines are the most awful type – american corporations transform the good idea to the worst possible thing. They are building hundreds of wind turbines in USA but they making this not for nature (who cares about nature in greedy corporation) – they are getting tax cuts for every turbine – this became the ideal scheme to get the money from budget or money-laundering and other fraudulence things. So for getting the maximum tax cuts – they need to build many turbines but at the same time not to spend many money – so they building very cheapest possible noisy and awful industrial turbines, to save on land expenses – they are trying to build turbines right next to people houses (many precedents in USA). So in the end people which living right next to wind turbines are suffering from high-pinch noise which always presented and even the new not so known problem – the gigantic shadows which made by rotating turbine blades which form into flashing light in the windows of neighbors in any sunny day.

      The best solution is only natural gas – the easist is the Methane – there’s examples of getting the methane gas from conservated closed trash dumps – they produce methane always by the heat from the ground and decomposition – all thanks to bacteries (they made the life possible on this planet). Same using the biological waste from humans sewage or agriculture industry (manure). And we must catch all methane gas – this gas is much more dangerous to atmosphere than ordinary CO2.

    • How do you shut down Japan’s biggest power company? Since they service Tokyo, you’d be shutting down the government and Japan’s two largest cities as well. It would be a disaster.

      All but two of the nuclear reactors are offline. The two currently running were restarted after they pass inspection. As for renewable energy, it will take decades to develop and install adequate technology to meet demand.

    • That would have happened already if it were not for the cozy relationship between power “company” and state.

      Any truly free market company would be legitimately cleaned out by now, and competitors would be in a frenzy to serve consumer needs. Not so, in a socialist democracy.

  • The Japanese government needs to take charge. Clearly Tepco, being a global company with no ties to any of the nations it is poisoning, does not care what happens to Japan or the global water supply. Tepco did not want help cleaning up this mess because they wanted to do it in a way that saved the most money. Tepco needs to be punished in an international court, and the cleanup should be performed jointly by a group of allied nations.

    • They’re a Japanese company that only services the Kanto region. They are answerable to the Japanese government and its citizens. If the international community has an issue, they’ll have to take it up with the Japanese government.

  • grindermonkey

    These articles typically describe these plants as “stricken” a euphemism at best for the GE Mark I reactors that litter both Japan and the US. These plants were doomed by design and should be decommissioned globally. Since this DISASTER Japan has closed many if not all its nuclear facilities and has suffered no power outages, brownouts etc. You have to wonder whether these plants were necessary in the first place, I suggest that they be decommissioned globally; their threat to public safety is worse than drones.

    • Masa Chekov

      No brownouts, but huge imports of fossil fuels to generate the electricity lost by the plant shutdowns. I wonder how much respiratory illness is caused by the increase in burning of fossil fuels in lieu of nuclear plants now?