The cleanup effort of Japan's Fukushima nuclear react, damaged by flooding during the massive earthquake that devastated the island nation in March 2011, continues to hit snags. The Washington Post reports that Tepco, the plant's owner in charge of the effort, has bungled various efforts, from flawed attempts at containing toxic groundwater to institutional failures including a lack of contingency plans.
The site now has more than 90 million tons of toxic water and the massive cost of the 40-year decommissioning plan for the site has forced the government to step in and provide financial assistance to Tepco. Regardless, Tepco still has some problems figuring out its priorities. According to the report:
Two members of Japan’s national legislature, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share what they describe as sensitive details, say Tepco continues to spend irresponsibly on lobbying politicians, offering them free trips to nuclear sites that include meals and lodging in hot springs resorts. A Tepco spokesman said the company does not offer such trips.
The company apparently also rejected a June 2011 request to build a wall that would prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor. A complex of more than 1000 tanks to hold the toxic water is now operational—though not perfectly so—to collect the water, which "accumulates each week to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool."
On Sunday, heavy rain in the area—about triple what was expected—caused some of the storage tanks to overflow. According to Reuters, more than half of the containments exceeded capacity. One of them contained "Strontium-90 as highly concentrated as 710 Becquerels per liter - 71 times higher than the level set by the company as safe for release."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.