Fukushima Operator Reports Large Contaminated-Water Spill

Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 20, 2014, 8:20 a.m.

Ja­pan’s Fukushi­ma atom­ic en­ergy fa­cil­ity spilled 100 met­ric tons of wa­ter con­tain­ing large amounts of ra­dio­act­ive con­tam­in­ants, Re­u­ters re­ports.

The Fukushi­ma Daii­chi plant op­er­at­or said the ra­di­ation-tain­ted li­quid prob­ably did not reach the ocean — loc­ated nearly half a mile away from the site of the spill — due to the ab­sence of any nearby out­let. The wa­ter flowed out of a massive con­tain­er on Wed­nes­day, when work­ers ac­ci­dent­ally left trans­fer pip­ing open and per­mit­ted more flu­id to es­cape between parts of the dam­aged com­plex than in­ten­ded.

“We are tak­ing vari­ous meas­ures, but we apo­lo­gize for wor­ry­ing the pub­lic with such a leak,” Tokyo Elec­tric Power spokes­man Masay­uki Ono said.

The Fukushi­ma fa­cil­ity’s over­seers have struggled to con­trol massive volumes of ra­dio­act­ive wa­ter at the site since March 2011, when an earth­quake and tsunami led to melt­downs in three of the fa­cil­ity’s six re­act­ors. In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency ex­perts last week pressed Ja­pan to con­sider au­thor­iz­ing fur­ther “con­trolled dis­charges” of wa­ter from the sea­side com­plex, en­abling the na­tion to re­lease flu­id con­tain­ing lower con­cen­tra­tions of harm­ful ma­ter­i­als.

Wa­ter in the latest spill is nearly eight times more con­tam­in­ated than flu­id the op­er­at­or can leg­ally dump in­to the ocean.

The 2011 dis­aster promp­ted the shut­down of Ja­pan’s oth­er atom­ic re­act­ors for safety checks, and their pos­sible re­act­iv­a­tion has been sub­ject to do­mest­ic con­tro­versy. One in­sider, though, said the coun­try’s gov­ern­ment now plans to ref­er­ence the value of atom­ic gen­er­at­ors in a forth­com­ing power strategy for com­ing years, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Thursday.

Ja­pan­ese Cab­in­et of­fi­cials are ex­pec­ted to en­dorse the plan next month, ac­cord­ing to the wire ser­vice.

What We're Following See More »
Allison Janney Takes to the Real White House Podium
7 hours ago

Carolyn Kaster/AP

When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
8 hours ago

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
9 hours ago

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
10 hours ago

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
13 hours ago

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”