The plant operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has admitted that it may have been leaking radioactive water since April this year.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the firm behind Fukushima’s operations said there were errors on the settings of six indicators responsible for the monitoring of groundwater levels of wells around reactor buildings 1-4 located at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power station.
The said indicators weren’t indicating accurate water levels.The errors on the settings on water gauges lowered groundwater levels at half of the dozen nearby wells to three feet below the required safety levels.
The probable explanation to such is that sometime in May, groundwater at one of the wells sank below the contaminated water inside, which may have then caused the radiocactive water to leak into the soil.
The company assured that it is investigating the matter after it discovered the problem this week when the company was preparing another well nearby.
Tepco spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki also guaranteed that their samples did not show an abnormal increase in radioactivity and that leaks to the outside are unlikely. Nakakuki said risk of a risk is unlikely because groundwater levels at wells dug closer to the reactors have stayed above minimum safety levels.
The Fukushima plant was damaged and crippled by a massive undersea earthquake resulting into a huge tsunami that swept across Japan’s northeast coast on March 11, 2011 in one of the Asia country’s worst disasters in history.
More than 18,000 people were killed in the catastrophe, and the damage the disaster brought to the Fukushima plant was also the worst of its kind since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. So bad was the impact that three of the Fukushima’s reactors went into meltdown. Locating the fuel debris caused by the damage has been a crucial part of the government’s decommissioning process for the plant.
The Japanese government revised its decommissioning plan for the plant last week, which would result to another additional three years delay in the 30-40 year projection.
Cooling water has been leaking from the damaged reactors of the plant and it’s also mixing with groundwater pooling in the basements of the reactor building, thus increasing the total amount of contaminated water.
Wells around the reactor are meant and designed to pump groundwater away from the basements and to reduce the amount around the reactor area.
An underwater robot has spotted lava-like rocks I July which could possibly be the missing melted nuclear fuel from Fukushima.
Tepco was also ordered by a court last week to pay $3.36 million to 42 plaintiffs for the nuclear disaster. The class suit was brought by residents who were forced to flee their homes when three reactor cores melted, knocking off the cooling systems and sending radioactive material into the air. It is just one of about 30 cases filed against the plant.
The case which was handed a ruling last week examined whether the Japanese government and Tepco could have foreseen the tsunami, and better prepare for the would-be disaster. A 2002 government earthquake assessment made public predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake affecting the area within 30 years. The 2011 huge earthquake was even stronger at magnitude 9.
The class suit argued that the disaster could have been prevented as emergency generators could have been positioned at a location higher than the plant, which stands 10 meters above sea level.
The Japanese government estimates that it would cost about $200 billion for the compensation, decommissioning and decontamination of the plant.