Worst radioactive water leak yet at Fukushima plant
Frantic efforts underway at Japanese nuclear plant as cause of radioactive leak remains unknown
Editor's Note: Since this story was published the severity of the leak at Fukushima has been upgraded from a one to a three on a seven-point international scale.
MORE THAN 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water has leaked from storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. This is the worst leak from the site since it was crippled by several meltdowns in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has clarified that this storage tank incident is separate from the contaminated water leaks reported in recent weeks.
Officials have classed the leak as a level-one incident – the second lowest level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
However, the radiation level is “strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour", Tepco’s general manager, Masayuki Ono, told Reuters.
This means clean-up workers could develop immediate symptoms of radiation poisoning if exposed to the contaminated site for over 10 hours.
It is still unclear what caused the leak or where it originated, but Tepco suspects it occurred through a valve connected to a gutter around the tank.
According to Matt McGrath, the BBC’s Environment Correspondent, only four of the 300 tonnes of contaminated water has so far been recovered and “the concern is that the rest will leach into the sea”.
It is also possible that groundwater could eventually be contaminated by the toxic leak, Tepco had admitted. The company says it is working hard to avoid that happening. ·