High radiation found in Fukushima groundwater

Sep 10, 2013 by Hiroshi Hiyama
A TEPCO worker checks contamination around a water tank at Fukushima on September 4, 2013. Japan has pledged a renewed push to contain potentially hazardous leaks.

Japan pledged a renewed push to contain potentially hazardous leaks at Fukushima on Tuesday after the operator of the crippled plant reported spiking levels of radiation in groundwater.

Late on Monday, two days after Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics, plant operator TEPCO announced samples taken from a well at the site showed the presence of , including strontium, a known carcinogen.

Reports said the utility believed it "now seems more likely" that leaks from tanks storing highly had made their way into subterranean , which flows out to sea.

In a release, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said showed radiation readings of 3,200 becquerels per litre.

The contamination level compares with government limits of 100 becquerels per kilogramme in food and 10 becquerels per litre in drinking water.

Experts say, if consumed, strontium accumulates in bones and can cause cancer.

The continuing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima has come under the international spotlight in recent weeks as Tokyo fought off challenges from Madrid and Istanbul for the right to host the 2020 Games.

Speaking to Olympic chiefs in Buenos Aires ahead of their decision to award the Games to Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the situation at Fukushima was "under control".

Inspectors look at tanks at Fukushima, on August 26, 2013. The continuing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima has come under the international spotlight.

On Tuesday his ministers huddled to discuss the decommissioning of the plant and its crisis, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

"We will consider ways to utilise the knowledge of people in and out of Japan... and to enhance our international communication on the waste water issue," Suga told reporters.

Thousands of tonnes of are being stored in temporary tanks at Fukushima. Much of it has been used to cool molten reactors at the plant wrecked by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

TEPCO and Japanese officials are considering releasing some of it into the Pacific Ocean after filtering out radioactive materials, but face opposition from fisherman and neighbouring countries.

The operator said last month that around 300 tonnes of mildly polluted water is running into the Pacific Ocean every day as a result of groundwater flowing underneath the stricken reactors and out to sea.

The Japanese government said last week it would spend $470 million on a scheme to freeze the soil around the reactors to form an impenetrable wall of ice they hope will direct groundwater away from them.

But the admission that water from the tanks holding the highly polluted water appears to be contaminating groundwater risks complicating that operation.

Suga on Tuesday stressed that ocean water samples taken off Fukushima coasts had not shown dangerous levels of radioactive materials.

UN watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it will send a special mission to Japan, calling the waste "a matter of high priority that needs to be addressed urgently."

Explore further: High radiation detected at Fukushima monitoring well: reports

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fukushima pipe leaking radioactive water: TEPCO

Sep 01, 2013

The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Sunday it had found highly radioactive water dripping from a pipe used to connect two coolant tanks, patching it up using tape.

Japan's radioactive water leaks: How dangerous?

Sep 05, 2013

New revelations of contaminated water leaking from storage tanks at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have raised alarm, coming just weeks after Japanese officials acknowledged that ...

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...