Contaminated groundwater is leaking from Japan's Fukushima power plant into the ocean, the plant operator acknowledged Monday in the first public admission of the leak.
The nuclear giant also acknowledged that the number of workers exposed to dangerous radiation is ten times greater than previously claimed.
"We would like to offer our deep apology for causing grave worries for many people, especially for people in Fukushima," Masayuki Ono, Tokyo Electric Power Company's general manager, told a news conference in comments broadcast on public NHK television, Reuters reports.
TEPCO had refused for two years to acknowledge the environmental damage wrought by the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Unusual steam has been rising from the power plant for days, but TEPCO had vigorously denied that it was reflective of any serious problem.
Despite TEPCO's silence, denials, and cover-ups, scientists had for years suspected severe leaking from the power plant disaster, touched off by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
As the building moves forward, the 160,000 people who fled their homes after radioactive disaster struck Fukushima are thrown into instability with no compensation from the plant that has systematically underestimated the damage.
In an earlier statement, Greenpeace declared:
The Fukushima nuclear disaster showed us once again that nuclear reactors are fundamentally dangerous. Not only do they cause significant damage to the environment, the health of populations and to national economies, the heavy financial cost of a meltdown is inevitably borne by the public, not by the companies that designed, built, and operated the plants. None of the world’s 436 nuclear reactors are immune to human errors, natural disasters, or any of the many other serious incidents that could cause a disaster. Millions of people who live near nuclear reactors are at risk.