Tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water leaked from an underground storage tank at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant this past Saturday. It is still uncertain how much water has reached the soil, but the Tokyo Electric Power Company said that radiation levels outside the pool have risen, indicating that some water is getting out. Thousands more gallons may leak before the pool can be emptied, said TEPCO.
Since the 9.0 earthquake that shook Japan on March 2011, TEPCO has been experiencing problems with keeping the damaged reactors under control. Since the earthquake, issues with leaking and malfunctioning cooling systems have caused additional contamination of the soil which surrounds the plant.
TEPCO has been using water to cool the damaged reactors and prevent them from overheating. During the process the water becomes contaminated and has to be contained at the plant. More than a quarter-million tons of radioactive water is stored at the plant, filling every available space. The storage tanks are lined with waterproof sheets to prevent the contaminated water from reaching the soil, however the company said the plant is now experiencing the biggest leak since the time of the 2011 disaster. The water is not expected to reach the ocean this time, as the pool is located half a mile from the cost.
Emptying the damaged pool could take a few more days, during which time about 12,000 more gallons could leak.