Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is facing a new “emergency” caused by a build-up of radioactive groundwater, according to BBC News.
The report continued on to say that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) warned that a barrier built to contain the water has already been breached.
The head of Japan’s NRA task force, Shinji Kinjo told news services, “Right now, we have an emergency.”
The Huffington Post reported the following:
“Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, admitted last month that contaminated water from Fukushima had leaked into the underground water system and reached the sea. The company gave its first estimate of the extent of the leak this weekend.”
TEPCO estimates that between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium have spilled into the ocean.
Kinjo claimed that TEPCO’s “sense of crisis is weak. This is why you can’t just leave it up to TEPCO alone. Right now, we have an emergency.”
Once it reaches the surface, it could start to flow “extremely fast”, says Kinjo.
Reuters stated that countermeasures are planned by TEPCO but are only temporary solution.
BBC News continued on to say that TEPCO can only pump contaminated water out and store it.
BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says that more than 1,000 giant holding tanks surrounding the plant are already full.
It is not currently know what the impact on the environment will be from these leaks.
Mitsuo Uematsu from the Center for International Collaboration, Atmosphere, and Ocean Research Institute at the University of Tokyo had the following to say:
“Until we know the exact density and volume of the water that’s flowing out, I honestly can’t speculate on the impact on the sea.
“We also should check what the levels are like in the sea water. If it’s only inside the port and it’s not flowing out into the sea, it may not spread as widely as some fear.”
A TEPCO official told newspapers that there is only a minor effect on the environment because it is about the same level as the upper limits of emission standards during operating periods.
TEPCO stated on Monday hat they do plan to start pumping out an additional 100 tons of groundwater a day to help the Fukushima radioactive water leak, which has been labeled an emergency.
[Image by Kawamoto Takuo via Wikimedia Commons]