Fukushima Operator Releases Radioactive Water into Pacific
The 11 March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has left TEPCO struggling with a potential public relations disaster ever since.
Since the onset of the incident TEPCO used massive sprays of water to cool the damaged reactor complex.
The debacle ignited concerns worldwide about the release into the environment of radioactive debris from the stricken nuclear facility, a topic that both TEPCO and the Japanese government worked to downplay.
Relentlessly upbeat and optimistic information has been sparingly released by TEPCO ever since, but on July 25 the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbum reported that Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told journalists that “The Fukushima No. 1 (nuclear reactor) plant is filling up with water. Inevitably the contaminated water will have to be discharged into the sea after TEPCO processes it properly and lowers (its radioactivity levels) below the standards.”
Since the incident TEPCO has been pouring water over the damaged complex reactors to cool them for more than two years, but contaminated water has been building up at the rate of an Olympic-size swimming pool each week since then. Three months ago TEPCO stated that the space to store the irradiated water was limited and asked for government approval to shift groundwater with “low levels of radiation” from the stricken facility to the Pacific via a “bypass.”
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority head Shunichi Tanaka cautiously told journalists, that he believed that the maritime leakages since Fukushima were ongoing, stating, “I think contamination of the sea is continuing to a greater or lesser extent. It was contaminated at the time of the accident, but I think it has been continuing for the last two years. Coming up with countermeasures against all possible (contamination) scenarios is a top priority.”
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