An enormous reservoir of radiation-contaminated water beneath the disabled Fukushima atomic energy plant in Japan is on the verge of spilling into the Pacific Ocean, creating a new serious worry in the long-running effort of to contain the radioactive fallout from the 2011 atomic energy disaster, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
Concerns about the groundwater crisis have been piled on top of the problem discovered earlier this week: An enormous 80,000-gallon leak in one of the tanks that holds radioactive water used to cool the Fukushima reactor cores.
"It's like a haunted house, one thing happening after another," Shunichi Tanaka, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman, said in discussing the ongoing challenges of dealing with fallout from the 2011 nuclear power catastrophe.
It is not yet apparent just how environmentally harmful the seepage of radioactive groundwater into the ocean will be, as the contamination will be watered down as it disperses through the ocean.
The groundwater became sullied when water used to cool the reactor cores, which was then stored in large surface containers, seeped into the immediate environment.
The radioactive groundwater is leeching closer to the ocean at a pace of approximately 13 feet every 30 days, according to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.
"The water from that area is just about to reach the coast," if it has not already arrived, Atsunao Marui, a groundwater specialist with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said in an interview.
The Fukushima reactor operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has suggested addressing the problem by encircling the reactor areas with a 90-foot deep underground ice wall that would cool the nearby earth. However, that proposed solution has yet to be tested and it would not be ready for deployment before 2015.