Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced that special diaper-like absorbent materials deployed to block a leaking pipe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have not worked. After discovering a 20 centimeter crack leaking highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, engineers pressed 8 kilograms of absorbent, 60 kilograms of sawdust, and three bags of shredded newspaper into pipes leading to a pit connected to the No. 2 reactor building where the leaking pipe is housed. Inserted 23m from the leak, the absorbent has not yet come into contact with the gushing water and has therefore been unable to absorb it.
Once the absorbent mixture does come into contact with the water, it should be able to soak up to fifty times its own volume. In the meantime, the agency’s spokesperson Hidehiko Nishiyama said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will continue to monitor the situation.
Scarily, the water in the pit currently registers 100,000 times the legal limit of radioactive iodine-131, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference it will be many months before the facility stops leaking radiation.
image via DigitalGlobe