Tokyo Electric Power Co. said groundwater at an observation well near the site of a leaky storage tank at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has shown high levels of radiation.
Tests found 3,200 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting materials, including strontium. As a result, it “now seems more likely” that radioactive water from leaking tanks at the crippled facility became mixed with groundwater in the area, Tepco said Monday.
The level of contamination far exceeds the government limit of just 10 becquerels of strontium per liter in drinking water and 100 becquerels per kilogram for food. If ingested, experts say, strontium accumulates in bones and can cause cancer.
Many of the tanks were used to cool molten fuel in the No. 1 plant’s three reactors that experienced core meltdowns from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Last week, the government unveiled a ¥47 billion plan to stem the leaks by creating a wall of ice under the plant. Tepco also plans to use wells to pump out groundwater before it seeps into the Pacific Ocean.
The latest findings could affect that plan, as the nearest pumping well is only 130 meters from the monitoring site where the highly irradiated water sample was taken.