There was an accident caused by the earthquake that ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on Japan’s Pacific coast this week. Three hundred tons of water, highly contaminated radioactive cesium, and strontium, has leaked from a storage tank and had seeped into the soil, which will have to be dug up and removed. The tainted water could eventually reach the ocean, adding to the tons of radioactive fluids that have already leaked into the sea from the plant. The new leak raises disturbing questions about the durability of the nearly 1,000 huge tanks about 500 yards from the site’s shoreline.
A powerful earthquake and tsunami knocked out the Fukushima complex’s cooling systems in March 2011, causing meltdowns at three reactors. The accompanying radiological release was rated at Level 7, the highest on the scale and on par with the 1986 accident at Chernobyl. This time Tokyo Electric Power, the power plant operator, hopes to clean the water using an elaborate filtering system and start releasing water contaminated at low levels into the ocean. Those plans have been delayed by technical problems and protests from fishermen. Unfortunately, at some point, they will have no choice but to start releasing some of the water.
photo credit: bbc.co.uk