Fukushima-Contaminated Groundwater on Verge of Leaking into Sea

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Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 23, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

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.

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