According to Japan's nuclear watchdog group, highly radioactive water from the now-destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant has leaked into the ocean through an underground barrier and is now quickly rising towards the surface. Today, that same group reported that the toxic water has caused the ocean to exceed levels far above the legal radioactive limit.
The head of of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Shinji Kinjo, told Reuters that the radioactive leakage has created an emergency they're struggling to contain. What's more, any attempts at countering the problem from the Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, as Tepco's "sense of crisis is weak."
In the first few weeks after the tsunami and earthquake that destroyed Fukushima and sent Japan into a state of crisis, the Japanese government, citing the emergency situation, allowed Tepco to drop thousands of metric tons of radioactive water into the Pacific. Until now, Tepco had been attempting to prevent groundwater from coming into contact with the plant, but now, the levels of radioactive waste in the ocean have forced them to admit that tainted water has, in fact, been leaking at a troubling pace.
Workers had injected chemicals into the ground to harden the shoreline along the No. 1 reactor building, but that only effectively solidifies ground at least 1.8 meters below the surface. And as Masashi Goto, a retired Toshiba Crop nuclear engineer who worked on several Tepco plants, told Reuters:
If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean. So now, the question is how long do we have?
Contaminated water could easily rise to the surface within three weeks and once it does "it would flow extremely fast." Which makes the claim of the task force overseeing Fukushima's accident measures that "new measures are need to stop the water from flowing into the sea that way" seem like a vast, vast understatement. [Reuters]