Yet another radioactive water leak has been detected at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials announced Tuesday, as the nuclear catastrophe continues to unfold more than two years after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the plant.
The New York Times reports:
The operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear plant halted an emergency operation Tuesday to pump thousands of gallons of radioactive water from a leaking underground storage pool after workers discovered that a similar pool, to which the water was being transferred, was also leaking.
At least three of seven underground chambers at the site are now seeping radioactive water, leaving the Tokyo Electric Power Company [TEPCO] with few options on where to store the huge amounts of contaminated runoff from the makeshift cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
"We cannot deny the fact that our faith in the underwater tanks is being lost." —Masayuki Ono, TEPCO general manager
Storage for the radioactive waste is no finite problem; it continues to pile up at the plant, as it is needed for its cooling system. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said TEPCO is not allowed to to release any more of the radioactive water into the ocean.
Also, the Associated Press reported Monday that critics accuse TEPCO of trying to save money by building shoddy storage pools for the radioactive water waste instead of safer steel tanks.
"We cannot deny the fact that our faith in the underwater tanks is being lost," Masayuki Ono, TEPCO general manager, told a news conference.
"We admit that the underground tanks are not reliable," Ono said. "But we must keep using some of them that are relatively in good shape while monitoring them closely. We just don't have enough tanks on the ground that can accommodate the water."