TEPCO announced that radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is leaking into the ocean. The water is thought to be coming from an eight inch crack in the wall of a containment pit in the No. 2 reactor. The levels of iodine in the water were twice the legal limit, an amount that officials said was still not strong enough to harm humans. Though radiation levels have been high in the ocean water surrounding the plant, this is the first proof of direct contamination.
The source of the leak is not known, but it could be a product of attempts to cool the reactor with water. Workers have been pumping hundred of tons of water into the reactors each day in an attempt to cool them down. While much of this water has evaporated, some has turned to runoff. “The more water they add, the more problems they are generating,” Satoshi Sato, a nuclear energy industry consultant told the Times. “It’s just a matter of time before the leaks into the ocean grow.” The source of the leak could also be a pipe or valve connected to the reactor. TEPCO plans to try and fill the crack by filling it in with concrete. The radioactive water is expected to be quickly diluted, but radiation has been found in seawater 25 miles south of the plant.
Meanwhile conditions continue to worsen for workers at the plant. The plant has run out of the nylon booties used to cover shoes, leaving workers to resort to covering their feet with garbage bags sealed with masking tape. There is also a shortage of the gauges used to measure radiation, as many were destroyed in the tsunami.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.