Nuclear, O&M, Reactors

Japan nuclear regulator calls Fukushima leak an “emergency”

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Japan cooling system power restored rats

Radioactive water seeping through the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and into the ocean has created an “emergency,” Shinji Kinjo, head of the Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, told Reuters.

Kinjo criticized the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (Tepco) ability to respond to crisis, after its months of denials finally turned into an admission, only recently, that its efforts to build underground water-tight barriers have failed and contaminated groundwater is reaching the sea. Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak,” Kinjo reportedly told Reuters.

Each day, Tepco currently pumps out 400 metric tons of water flowing from the hills above into the destroyed plant where it mixes with now-contaminated coolant water. Plans are in place to increase that pumping capacity, Tepco says. Tepco said last week that between 20 and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium had likely leeched into the ocean since the original meltdown—tests on strontium levels are scheduled next.

The ongoing contaminated water crises—combined with repeated denials followed by admissions—reportedly continue to take a substantial toll on Tepco’s credibility at a particularly sensitive time, as the country moves to attempt a restart of its nuclear fleet.

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