Fukushima’s Radioactive Groundwater Rising Above Its Barrier

Fukushima Radioactive Groundwater Spilling

Radioactive groundwater at Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has risen above the barrier built to contain it, according to Japanese media reports on Saturday.

The rising amount of contaminated water poses risks that it could leak into the sea. The nuclear plant was crippled in the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March of 2011.

Asahi newspaper cited data from a meeting on Friday of a task force working to clean up the plant. Reuters reports that estimates suggest the contaminated water could reach the ground surface in the next three weeks.

From there, it will easily be able to trickle down into the nearby ocean. The latest revelation is one of many problems facing Fukushima and Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which is working to clean up and decommission the plant.

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and has left Tepco struggling to contain the contamination. The company is working to contain radioactive water that cools the reactors as it mixes with about 400 tonnes of fresh groundwater every day.

Russia Today notes that the equipment to pump out the contaminated water at Fukushima will be installed by the end of August. But the company will still have to pump out about 100 tonnes of water per day to prevent the contamination from hitting the ocean.

Along with the groundwater issue, there is no telling where the contaminated water will be stored. More than 85 percent of Fukushima’s 380,000 tonne storage capacity is already full. Workers have also built more than 1,000 tanks to store the mixed water, but they are failing to keep up with the massive outflow.

If it is to contain all the water, Tepco believes it will have to double its capacity over the next three years. But the temporary tanks won’t last long, as the radiation will cause their steel bolts to rust in the next few years. The latest problem comes just one month after Tepco admitted radioactive water has been leaking from Fukushima into the ocean since the disaster happened.

[Image by Kawamoto Takuo via Wikimedia Commons]