On Tuesday, the operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant announced that it dumped 1,130 tons of radiation-contaminated water following a typhoon. Typhoon Man-yi hit Japan on Monday with heavy rains that flooded areas of the country and filled the enclosure currently holding toxic water that had been used to cool the broken reactors. To prevent the complex from flooding, workers ended up releasing the mix of rainwater and waste into the soil.
Image © NASA Goddard Photo and Video
TEPCO, the company that runs the facility, claims that the water released contained only low levels of radiation, below government-imposed safety limits. But in one site where the contamination turned out to be above that limit, workers were not able to start up a water pump fast enough to compensate for the heavy rain, and strontium-contaminated water leaked into the surrounding environment for several minutes.
These latest revelations follow admissions that the damaged plant has leaked at least 300 metric tons of contaminated water into the ground and ocean. The government has pledged an estimated $320 million to build an underground wall of ice to contain future leaks, but it will take time to complete. In the meantime, neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government seem to have solid plans to reduce the risk of leakage throughout the typhoon season.
Lead image © NASA Goddard Photo and Video