Radioactive groundwater at Fukushima now an 'emergency'

Contaminated groundwater from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has breached an underground barrier and is now deemed an emergency...

Contaminated groundwater from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has breached an underground barrier and is now deemed an emergency.

Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force told Reuters the contaminated groundwater is rising towards the surface and is exceeding the legal limits of radioactive discharge.

Kinjo was quoted as saying that measures taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) were only a temporary solution.

The Japanese government allowed Tepco to dump contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency move during the early weeks of the disaster, according to Reuters.

On July 22 Tepco said that although concentrations of radioactive material in seawater have been decreasing, “concentrations have been fluctuating up and down”.

Back in April, water leaks were discovered at the facility with Tepco facing the decision of dumping contaminated water into the ocean (see WWi story).

It was on March 11 2011 when a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of Japan, bringing part of one of the world's largest economies to its knees. One of the biggest earthquakes to be recorded worldwide, the seismic force was even felt as far away as the United States.

In an earthquake prone region, Japan had become resilient to a series of smaller events throughout its history. But it was the scale of the resulting tsunami which many east coast civilians did not expect. Measuring nearly 10 metres in height, the giant wave struck the country with full force.

Although the number of fatalities increasingly grew, it was the failing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which grabbed headlines around the world. Waves destroyed cooling systems for the reactors, leading to meltdowns of three of them.

After the natural disaster and reports of drinking water contamination, the Japan Water Works Association's chief executive Mr Yoshihiko Misono spoke to WWi about recovering Japan's water empire (see WWi article).

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