Source of contaminated water leak found at Fukushima No. 3 reactor

TOKYO —

Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) say they have confirmed the source of radioactive water leaking from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s No. 3 reactor.

The source of the leakage, which began in January, was discovered on Thursday as TEPCO personnel were inspecting the damaged areas of the storage container with a video camera. Fuji TV quoted a TEPCO official as saying workers found a pipe joint that was showing signs of radioactive water leakage. This is the first time officials have been able to confirm the source of the water leaks at the No. 3 reactor.

TEPCO said the contaminated water is seeping out of the pipe joint at a slow rate. 

The utility also said that it plans to start releasing uncontaminated groundwater around the facility into the ocean some time next week.

TEPCO has lobbied local fishermen to allow a groundwater bypass for nearly two years and finally got their approval in March.

TEPCO has built a thousand tanks at the Fukushima plant that hold more than 431,000 tons of radioactive water. Nearly 90% of available capacity in the tanks are already filled with radioactive water.

Contaminated water accumulates at a rate of 400 tons a day at Fukushima as groundwater flows downhill into the destroyed basements of the reactor buildings and mixes with highly radioactive water used to cool melted fuel. Radioactive water poses a long-term risk to the shutdown of the plant, a task expected to span more than three decades.

TEPCO’s bypass will release 100 tons of groundwater a day that flows downhill toward the devastated plant and funnel it to the sea before it reaches the reactor buildings.

Both Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said controlled release of low-level water should be considered to make storage space at the facility for irradiated water.

Local fisheries unions had been bitterly opposed to TEPCO’s proposed bypass after irradiated water leaked from tanks that were just uphill of the proposed groundwater drains last year. The leaks sparked international alarm and led to a boycott of Fukushima fish by South Korea.

As part of its approval of the bypass, local media reported that fishermen requested a third party organization to check radiation levels of groundwater before it is released and any released water to have less than 1 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134, a radioactive element that has a half life of around two years.

The legal limit of releasing Cesium-134 into the ocean is 60 becquerels per liter.

Japan Today/Reuters

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    Only took them 4 months and a video camera? Guess the other inspections must have been extremely thorough! Meanwhile as these clowns poison our water, land, and human resources they ask for more handouts and declare the need to restart reactors so they can make more profit.

  • 6

    valleynews

    The legal limit of releasing Cesium-134 into the ocean is 60 becquerels per liter.

    Does the legal limit vary according to the authority responsible for setting the limit?

  • 3

    Farmboy

    fishermen requested a third party organization to check radiation levels of groundwater before it is released and any released water to have less than 1 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134, a radioactive element that has a half life of around two years.

    Good idea! The fishermen recognize bullpucky when they hear it, I think.

  • -1

    kyushubill

    Clean up aisle 3. Sorry, couldn't resist.

    I wonder how much more the "legal limit" and "healthy limit" will rise before this thing is controlled?

  • -2

    kurisupisu

    Still releasing 100s of radioactive contamination into the sea everyday then?

  • 2

    WilliB

    kurisupis:

    " 100s of radioactive contamination i "

    What does "100s of radioactive contamination" mean?

  • 5

    Disillusioned

    After three years they have already filled 1,000 tanks to 90% capacity and have no idea what to do with this water. There was talk of building a decontamination facility, but that will take years to achieve and they will not be able to process as much water as they accumulate, so the stockpile will continue to grow. At this rate they will have half of the exclusion zone filled with water tanks in the the next ten years. Then what? Have these tanks been scrutinized for earthquake safety? I know many of the tanks they have built are very close to the ocean, so if there is another large tsunami it could result in a huge release of contaminated water into the sea. They do not seem to have a sound plan on how to deal with this nor do they have plans on how to deal with the nuclear waste generated by other plants. Are the clowns running this circus? How can anybody support the restart of other reactors after watching this comedy of errors and half-cooked ideas go down in Fukushima?

  • 2

    Cricky

    After 3 years they found the problem, just another 3 years and there might be a series of meetings lasting 3 years to come up with a panel to discuss resolving the problem...as they cough blood.

  • 1

    goldeneagle

    Wow that was quick. I think soon read comments from proud TEPCO bosses on this extra ordinary achievement.

  • -1

    goldeneagle

    Correction I think soon we will read comments from proud TEPCO BOSSES on this extra ordinary achievement.

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    It's the blown up reactor dudes!!!! I could have told you that!!!

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    Woohoo!

    Found it!

    Great!

    Now, what do we do!?

    Ummmm.

    Abe-san?

  • 2

    Frank Thornton

    Everything is under control...

  • -1

    Iowan

    "was discovered Thursday..." Of which month, TEPCO?

  • -1

    toshiko

    The six reactors in the 2011 Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe had been designed by General Electric. Their design had been criticised as far back as 1972

  • 2

    Disillusioned

    Toshiko - Yes, you are right! The reactors were designed by GE and they were scrutinised and criticised 40 years ago. However, many recommendations were made to increase the stability of them and they were ignored by TEPCO and the J-Gov. The reactors were only designed to function for 40 years, but were still in operation well over their recommended life-span, once again, because TEPCO and the J-Gov ignored the recommendations. You should not go pointing the blame at GE because it was TEPCO and the J-Gov that ignored all the upgrade recommendations that would have prevented the meltdowns happening. One recommendation that was ignored was to move the back up generators into the roofs of the reactor buildings and to totally waterproof all the electrical systems. If they had done this we would not be paying an extra 10% on out electricity bills nor would we be watching this comedy of errors unfold.

  • 3

    nandakandamanda

    It's not like this was the only leak and now the whole of Fukushima is waterproof again, which is what the headline can be taken to mean.

    Far from it...

    The place has been plagued with many, many leaks over the years and months, from tanks, overflow containments, trenches, stop-cocks and joints, etc. Here they have merely found the source of one single leak connected with Reactor #3 that has been going since January 2014.

  • 1

    kurisupisu

    "Contaminated water accumulates at a rate of 400 tons a day at Fukushima as groundwater flows downhill into the destroyed basements of the reactor buildings and mixes with highly radioactive water used to cool melted fuel. Radioactive water poses a long-term risk to the shutdown of the plant, a task expected to span more than three decades. "

    Hundreds of tons of contaminated have been flowing into the since since March 2011,the flow of water is tainted by the corium many meters below ground.There isn't any way to capture this water! All this radiation is building and building in the environment.....

  • 1

    GW

    Theatre of the bloody absurd, that's what this is!

  • 2

    Christopher Blackwell

    Meanwhile most of the water storage tanks were not built to proper specifications so all of those storage tanks will eventually leak. They can barely build tanks fast enough to keep up with ever more contaminated water, much less replace to poorly constructed water tanks that will soon be leaking.

    Stay tuned to "What else can go wrong and Fukushima?"

    As the company is making profits, how about pouring more of those profits into the solving of the problem?

  • 1

    B.B.Q.Demon

    How about ALL TEPCO's profits should be poured into containing this problem. After all, as Disillusioned stated, they knowingly ignored the recommended safety upgrades and kept the reactors online past their expiration dates.

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