New Fukushima Leak Seeps More Radiation into Pacific

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

New Fukushima Leak Seeps More Radiation into Pacific

Leak 'plugged' as contamination levels uncertain

Fukushima's plant operator TEPCO announced today that about 12 tons of water contaminated with radiation has leaked from the plant. Sources are saying that much of the water has leaked into the Pacific ocean, making this the second major leak in two weeks.

TEPCO believes most of the water flowed into the Pacific Ocean. It says the contaminated water leaked from a treatment pipe.

"Our officials confirmed that cooling water leaked at a joint in the pipes," a TEPCO spokesman said. "It is possible that part of the water may have flowed outside the facility and poured into the ocean".

The leak has now been 'plugged', as officials continue to assess the damage and new levels of radiation in the water.

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Fukushima leak may have flowed into Pacific: TEPCO (AFP/Tokyo):

About 12 tonnes of radioactive water has leaked at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with the facility's operator saying Thursday that some may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the leak was found early Thursday from a pipe attached to a temporary decontamination system, and the water had already gone through some of the cleansing process.

The water, once it has been used to cool the reactors, contains massive amounts of radioactive substances and is put into the water-processing facility so it can be recycled for use as a coolant. [...]

The leak has since been plugged, the spokesman added, saying the utility was probing the cause of the accident and how much, if any, water flowed into the Pacific.

The accident was the latest of several leaks of radioactive water at the troubled plant, undermining the government's claim made in December that the shuttered Fukushima reactors were now under control.

In one incident last month, about 120 tonnes of radioactive water leaked at the plant's water decontamination system and about 80 litres (21 gallons) seeped into the ocean, according to TEPCO.

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Plant Halts Fresh Leak at Fukushima (Wall Street Journal):

The company estimates roughly 12 tons of contaminated water may have escaped into the ocean. High levels of cesium 134 and 137 were confirmed at the point of the leak roughly 300 yards from the ocean, but no detectable amounts of radioactive contamination have been found in the sea water.

The company will further investigate the possible spread of contamination and its potential impact in the ocean, including the existence of beta radiation that could contain harmful strontium, company spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai said.

The amount of water reportedly released was tiny compared with the amount Tepco dumped into the ocean during the early weeks of the accident. The Japanese government alarmed neighboring countries in April last year when it approved the discharge of 10,000 tons of low-level radioactive water from the plant as Tepco ran out of space to store the water used to cool reactors.

Thursday's leak came on the heels of several other problems at the plant.

In late March, Tepco said readings of airborne radiation inside the containment vessel at the No. 2 reactor had surged to a deadly 79 sieverts, the highest level since the crisis began March 11 last year. That came alongside news that the volume of the reactor's cooling water had declined sharply.

A leakage incident near the desalination facility similar to Thursday's was also reported March 26.

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