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Fukushima situation worsening with discovery of water storage tank leaking alarming levels of radiation

Sunday, September 01, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Fukushima, water storage tanks, radiation leak

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(NaturalNews) Following recent reports about some of the plant's water filters being taken offline due to major corrosion problems, the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan is now experiencing considerable issues with its contaminated water storage tanks as well, some of which appear to be leaking significant amounts of highly radioactive water directly into the environment.

As reported by Reuters, no less than 300 metric tons of radioactive water was recently found to have breached at least one onsite storage tank, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), with radiation levels so high that one hour of exposure half a meter, or about one foot and eight inches, away would result in a radiation dose five times the average annual global limit for nuclear workers.

Japanese government declares tank leak a 'serious incident'

After being discovered, the leak was dubbed a "serious incident" by Japan's nuclear regulatory body, prompting Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Toshimitsu Motegi, to announce that the Japanese government will now be assuming control over the situation moving forward. TEPCO's remediation protocols for the failed reactors, which underwent three nuclear meltdowns following the disaster, are clearly not working, which means other measures must be taken.

According to Reuters, the puddle of radioactive water recently formed near a storage tank installed after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This particular storage tank and others near it are composed of steel but also contain plastic sealing around their joints, which now appears to be failing.

Cheap plastic seals led to leak, say experts

The company should have constructed the tanks using proper welds but chose plastic initially in order to expedite the process. And the consequences of this failure have manifested in the form of toxic water, which is emitting radiation doses of about 100 millisieverts per hour (mSv/hr) at an elevation just 50 centimeters (cm) above sea level.

"That is a huge amount of radiation," said Michiaki Furukawa, a professor emeritus and nuclear chemist at Nagoya University in Japan's Aichi Prefecture, as quoted by Reuters. "The situation is getting worse."

Japanese government assumes control over cleanup efforts

As many NaturalNews readers already well know, TEPCO has been playing games with the severity of the situation since day one, downplaying how much radiation is actually leaking from the plant. Early on, the company instigated fishing bans due to toxic water, which it later lifted and more recently reinstated, creating confusion about the actual progress of its containment efforts.

"We've allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they've essentially turned it into a game of 'Whack-a-Mole,'" adds Motegi. "From now on, the government will move to the forefront."

TEPCO will continue to construct containment tanks to deal with the 400-or-so tons of radioactive water leaking from underground tunnels into the ocean, according to Bloomberg, but the damage has already been done. Radioactive water has now seeped into the earth, and to add insult to injury, TEPCO plans to continue using the faulty plastic-sealed storage tanks, despite their known failure.

The Prime Minister's office, however, has indicated that additional measures will also be taken to pump more "liquid glass," also known as sodium silicate, into the ground to help stop the spread of contaminated water. Other measures include installing subterranean bypasses to prevent precious groundwater from reaching the contaminated reactors and becoming radioactive.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.bloomberg.com

http://www.reuters.com

http://www.japantimes.co.jp

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