The radioactive water woes at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant got worse over the weekend after the tritium concentration in a groundwater sample surged more than tenfold this month.
A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that heavy rain caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably affected the groundwater after the storm whipped through Japan last week.
Some 150,000 becquerels of tritium per liter were measured in a groundwater sample taken Thursday from a well east of the No. 2 reactor. The figure is a record for the well and over 10 times the level measured the previous week.
In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels, the utility said of the sample.
The well is close to the plant’s port in the Pacific.
The water crisis could get worse as the nation braces for Typhoon Vongfong this week. Although downgraded from supertyphoon status, the storm was still packing winds of up to 180 kph and on course to hit Kyushu by Monday.
The Meteorological Agency said it could reach Tokyo on Tuesday before gradually losing strength as it races north toward Tohoku.
The storm dumped heavy rain on Okinawa, and at least 35 people have been reported injured in both Okinawa and Kyushu, where authorities told 150,000 people to evacuate as the typhoon toppled trees, flooded streets and cut power to more than 60,000 homes.
Tepco also revealed that, at a separate well also east of the No. 2 reactor, a groundwater sample was giving off a record 2.1 million becquerels of a beta ray-emitting substance, nearly double the level from a week earlier.
The cesium activity in the sample was 70 percent higher at 68,000 becquerels.
Tepco has been periodically measuring the concentration of radioactive materials in groundwater at 34 points east of the reactors 1 through 4.
Readings hit record highs at three points after the heavy rain caused by the typhoon, but the utility said it does not know why.