Heavy rain brought by Typhoon Malakas caused contaminated groundwater to rise to ground level at the radiation-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant Tuesday night, raising fears of tainted water flooding out to the plant’s port area, its operator said.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said in a press release that plant workers are doing their utmost to pump up tainted groundwater at the Fukushima compound, while trying to measure the level of radioactive substances contained in the water.
Under normal circumstances, groundwater taken from wells around the damaged reactor buildings at the Fukushima plant is filtered and stored in numerous tanks built on the compound.
Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, groundwater reached the surface level at an observation well near the seawall at the power plant’s port, and at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, groundwater stood at 3 cm above the surface level, Tepco said.
The well has a far higher wall and the ground around it is paved, the company said, playing down the possibility that any water flowed out of the well.
By 9 a.m. Wednesday, the water level had dropped to 3 cm below the surface.
Meanwhile, some rainwater may have flowed directly into the port before seeping underground, according to the company.
Tepco will continue pumping groundwater around the seawall, located near the damaged No. 1 to No. 4 reactors, and carry out close examinations of water inside the port, the company said.
In order to curb the flow of groundwater into the sea, the company has covered the seawall with water shields and carries out groundwater pumping operations.
Typhoon Malakas itself was downgraded to an extratropical depression at around 9 p.m. Tuesday as it moved along the coast of the Tokai region and swayed toward the Pacific. It was initially forecast to hit the Kanto region in the early hours of Wednesday.
The previous typhoon, Lionrock, earlier this month killed at least 17 people. Before Lionrock, two typhoons had claimed at least two lives in the northeast.