The utility responsible for Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has confirmed yet another leak of carcinogenic, strontium-containing wastewater from storage tanks at the site. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said 110 US gallons had spilled from a 450 ton container, and that the wastewater may well have leaked into the sea. The accident occurred when workers misjudged the capacity of the tank, which was tilted on uneven ground, and subsequently overfilled it with wastewater. With many accidents preceding this latest spill, it is likely to bring even greater scrutiny on TEPCO.
Just two weeks ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the site and ordered TEPCO to provide a precise timeline for repairing leaks of radioactive water, and a future timeline for shutting down the entire plant. His demands came as ongoing accidents at Fukushima Daiichi cause mounting embarrassment to the government, and fears among local and international communities as to the safety of the site.
The most recent 110 gallon spill of wastewater comes in addition to the dumping of over 1,130 tons of radioactive water during a typhoon last month, a leak of at least 300 tons in August, a 120 ton leak in April and other small leaks from pipelines. And these are just the confirmed instances in the last six months.
These leaks are separate from, and in addition to, the estimated 300 tons of contaminated water that Fukushima Daiichi leaks each day.
As for the most recent spill of wastewater, Physorg reports that the water carried “a radioactive load of up to 580,000 becquerels per litre.” Put into perspective Japanese government limits stand at “100 becquerels per kilogramme in food and 10 becquerels per litre in drinking water.” While this radioactive load will be dispersed among the vast body of water that is the Pacific Ocean, there are mounting concerns that ongoing leaks from the plant are leading to continued contamination of local waters.
Last month, the Japanese government pledged $470 million in funding to create a subterranean ice wall around the plant in an effort to contain leaks and prevent contamination of ground and sea water.