Well over two years after the Tōhuku earthquake and tsunami, TEPCO officials admit that radioactive groundwater has been leaking into the nearby ocean for, well, two years.
The confession came just one day after an election that brought Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-nuclear party a solid majority, and months after watchdogs raised the red flag about possible ocean contamination. Environmental experts have long feared that the contaminated water was causing damage to local marine and even human life, though TEPCO insists that the danger is low. "Seawater data have shown no abnormal rise in the levels of radioactivity," a TEPCO spokesperson told the press on Monday. This is all after the company denied groundwater leaking into the ocean for, again, two years.
So we have to wonder: If the radioactive water is leaking into the ocean but the water's radioactivity levels don't raise, where does the radiation go? TEPCO officials say it's been contained by the silt fences erected in the water around the nuclear power plant. If they're wrong—or obfuscating—and it made it out, it's entirely possible that the ocean's carrying the radiation off to far flung places like it's been doing tons of debris. Meanwhile, TEPCO admitted earlier this month that radiation levels in the nearby groundwater were spiking, further raising suspicion about the levels in the ocean.
Despite the press conference and the apologies, this latest revelation is just the latest link on a chain of misinformation stretching all the way back to the earthquake itself. After the initial tragedy, it wasn't just TEPCO that was fudging the truth about what was really happened at the crippled nuclear power plant. It was the Japanese government, too. But now with newly elected lawmakers in place, at least the people get a little bit of the truth, dismal and destructive as it may be. [Al Jazeera]
Image via AP