Toxic radiation in groundwater at Fukushima: operator

Jun 19, 2013
A water pump draws groundwater from a well in front of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, on June 12, 2013. Cancer-causing radioactive substances have been found in groundwater at the crippled plant, its operator said on Wednesday, as it pledged to prevent it getting into the sea.

Cancer-causing radioactive substances have been found in groundwater at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, its Japanese operator said on Wednesday, as it pledged to prevent it getting into the sea.

Power Co (TEPCO) said tests showed the highly toxic strontium, a chemical that can cause if ingested, was present at levels 30 times the permitted rate.

The firm said it had also detected tritium, a of hydrogen used in glow-in-the-dark watches, at around eight times the allowed level.

"From groundwater samples we collected, we detected 500,000 becquerels per litre of tritium, that is very high," a TEPCO official told a press conference.

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 .

However, a TEPCO official said seawater data showed no abnormal rise in the levels of either substance.

He added the company believed the groundwater was largely contained by concrete foundations and steel sheets, and any gaps were being plugged with a material known as "" that would solidify, forming a physical barrier.

The revelations are the latest in a growing catalogue of mishaps at the crippled plant, more than two years after the worst the world has seen in a generation.

Workers used tonnes of water to cool the melted cores of the reactors and TEPCO is having to store this onsite. However, reports continue to emerge of leaks in storage pools, tanks and pipes.

Critics say improvised fixes put in place at Fukushima since the disaster leave it vulnerable to mishaps and at the mercy of nature, with no immediate end in sight.

Although the natural disaster that sparked the meltdowns claimed more than 18,000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe.

However, tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes and businesses in the area around the site. Many remain displaced, with scientists warning some places may have to be abandoned forever.

Explore further: First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fukushima plant springs another radioactive leak

Apr 11, 2013

Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has sprung yet another leak of radioactive water, its operator said on Thursday, the latest in an increasingly long line of mishaps to rattle public confidence.

Radioactive water 'may have leaked' from Fukushima

Apr 06, 2013

Radioactive water may have leaked into the ground from a tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said on Saturday, the latest in a series of troubles at the crippled facility.

Fukushima leak may have flowed into Pacific: TEPCO

Apr 05, 2012

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.

TEPCO: Record high radiation level found in fish

Jan 18, 2013

A fish contaminated with radiation levels more than 2,500 times the legal limit has been caught near Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, its operator said Friday.

UN atomic agency urges Fukushima safety improvements

Apr 22, 2013

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday called on the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to improve "essential systems" as it struggles to deal with leaks and power cuts.

Recommended for you

The state of shale

Dec 19, 2014

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.