Fukushima: concrete fails to halt leak of highly radioactive water

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, said April 2 that highly radioactive water is leaking directly into the ocean, which may help explain high levels of radioactivity in seawater off the coast. The water is coming from an 8-inch (20-centimeter) crack that was found in the concrete pit holding power cables near reactor Number 2, with the radiation level measured at 1,000 milli-sieverts an hour. The annual limit of radiation exposure allowed for Fukushima workers is 250 milli-sieverts. Efforts to seal the crack by pumping in concrete have failed to slow the flow of water into the ocean. TEPCO officials said they will next try using a polymer—a type of quick-setting plastic. The tainted water is pooled up some 10 to 20 centimeters high at the bottom of the pit. (LAT, Kyodo News, April 2)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the disaster operation base at J-village soccer training facility in Fukushima Prefecture to encourage Self-Defense Forces members, firefighters and other workers in their efforts to contain the nuclear crisis. “I want you to fight with the conviction that you absolutely cannot lose this battle,” Kan told the SDF personnel and TEPCO workers at the base, around 20 kilometers from the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

A day earlier, Kan dismissed rumors that the government is planning to nationalize TEPCO in the wake of the disaster. He also resisted calls to widen the 20-kilometer evacuation zone despite findings of radioactive contamination beyond this radius. And while he said plans to build new nuclear plants in Japan would be reviewed, he did not say they wold be abandoned. (Kyodo News, April 2; FT, The Australian, April 1)

See our last post on the Fukushima disaster.

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