High levels of a cancer-causing radioactive substance has been found in groundwater surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant, following reports of storage tank leaks and concerns that more contaminated waste-water will soon reach the ocean.
Plant operators, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), said recent tests revealed that strontium, a chemical that causes bone cancer if ingested, appeared at 33 times the legally admissible level.
Additionally, TEPCO said the tests revealed tritium, another radioactive substance, at eight times above levels considered to be safe—500,000 becquerels per liter of tritium.
"That is very high," a TEPCO official told a press conference.
The toxic substances were found just 90 feet from the seashore within the Fukushima compound.
As Agence-France Presse reports, the high levels of radiation in ground water present grave dangers to both marine life and public health:
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The substances, which were released by the meltdowns of reactors at the plant in the aftermath of the huge tsunami of March 2011, were not absorbed by soil and have made their way into underground water.
Subsoil water usually flows out to sea, meaning these two substances could normally make their way into the ocean, possibly affecting marine life and ultimately impacting humans who eat sea creatures.
TEPCO, an agency that has been known to bend the truth for the sake of its public image, said the "concrete barriers" they have built have so far protected the ocean from groundwater contamination.
The Fukushima site has been rife with mishaps since its devastating meltdowns following the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami. Most recently a series of ongoing leaks in underground radioactive water tanks have delayed the plant's request to release groundwater into the sea.
Wednesday's announcement highlights the ongoing prevalent nuclear contamination surrounding the site.