Fukushima tank springs major leak

120 tons of radioactive water escape from underground facility


Around 120 tons of contaminated water with an estimated 710 billion becquerels of radioactivity has probably leaked into the ground under the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. revealed Saturday.

“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, which announced the leak overnight, said Saturday morning that the water escaped from one of seven underground reservoir tanks at the No. 1 plant and that the remainder — an enormous 13,000 tons — is being pumped to other tanks nearby.

Although the process is likely to be completed early this week, Tepco warned that up to 47 tons of the highly irradiated water may additionally leak out before the task is completed. As the tank will out of commission for some time while the incident is investigated, Tepco is also looking to secure a new storage facility for the radioactive water.

The tank in question held processed water that had been used to cool down the plant’s stricken reactors. Able to hold about 14,000 tons of water, the tank, which Tepco began using to store contaminated water in February, almost reached full capacity last month.

The utility believes the radioactive water may have leaked out through a joint in the tank’s seepage control sheets.

Although much of the cesium had been removed, the water was still tainted with other dangerous radioactive substances. According to the utility, around 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials are estimated to have seeped out of the tank, which measures around 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and 6 meters deep and is covered by three layers of waterproof sheeting.

Water found around the tank also turned out to be radioactive, the utility said.

Between the waterproofing sheets, it was measured at around 6,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter Friday, according to Tepco and the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Trace amounts of radioactive material were also detected in water between the outermost sheet and the soil.

The tank is around 800 meters from the Pacific but Tepco said it believes the irradiated water is unlikely to make its way to the sea.

  • thedudeabidez

    “the water was still tainted with other dangerous radioactive substances. ”

    Strontium, for one, according to Jiji.

  • David E. Spence

    From concept, through design, manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance everything humans do is prone to errors and omissions, whether deliberate, accidental or through negligence, placing an even heavier burden on the rest of humankind. Failure to recognize this and plan for it with redundancies and multiple back-ups is the single biggest mistake. The “perfect storm” never happens, until it does. Japan has ex-Prime Minister Tanaka for this.

  • Al

    This is awful.
    I think that this “other radioactive substances” is the famous caesium-137, International Agency of Atomic Security calculated that 770 Pbk of this radionuclide leaked from Fukushima station – by the comparison Chernobyl disaster leakage of caesium-137 was only 270 Pbk (with many others).
    By the example the contamination from Chernobyl station of caesium-137 takes the gigantic amount of lands in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – this radionuclide needed 30 years to decay. And only in 2016th this radioactive waste will decay from Chernobyl, but many others will decay there for more than 6000 years.
    Radiocaesium, entering the body, relatively evenly distributed, which leads to almost uniform irradiation of organs and tissues. This contributes to the high penetrating ability (12 cm in length) of gamma rays of his progeny Barium-137.

  • Why Japanese government continue to set forward atomic power plant? We cannot cope with even one crippled power plant. Nothing has changed in Japan after new administration started. I feel so helpless.

  • Phuong Phan

    It has been two years with a lot of donation and supports of Japan government as well as international organizations. However It seems to me that the disaster just happened yesterday but not two years. I think we should not leave Tepco alone to deal with this disaster which turned to be a threat to global environment. I don’t trust that Tepco can solve this problem even with 10 years. Japan government should do more to support evacuees. I cannot believe when i see what are going on with evacuees.

  • terzie

    Where is Godzilla when you need him!