Fukushima Leak Now an 'Emergency'
Underground barriers not working, radioactive water now rising to ground level
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2013 5:41 PM CDT
Workers in protective suits and masks wait to enter the emergency operation center at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool)

(Newser) – Just weeks after TEPCO finally acknowledged that radioactive water is leaking from its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the head of Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority has called the situation an "emergency." Shinji Kinjo tells Reuters that TEPCO's "sense of crisis is weak" and the country can't rely on the power company alone to fix the problem. "Right now, we have an emergency," he says. The company built an underground shoreline barrier to keep the contaminated water from reaching the ocean, but Kinjo says it isn't working—it's just forcing the water over and under the barrier.

"If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean," says a former nuclear engineer. "So now, the question is how long do we have?" The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that the contaminated water could reach the ground's surface within three weeks. Once that happens, says Shinjo, "it would flow extremely fast."

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
Lefty_Libby
Aug 6, 2013 11:27 PM CDT
Nuclear...the clean energy. I don't ride ziplines or rollercoasters, because fallible human beings assemble and maintain them.
GaryUSA
Aug 6, 2013 4:20 PM CDT
Require a background check on all incompetent bastards before licensing them to build a nuclear power plant. As well, require the same check on all incompetent bastards who issue the licenses.
JackNelsonSteward
Aug 6, 2013 11:33 AM CDT
We went from, "Nope ... nothing ... not a thing ... 's all OK ... " to, "Well ... yeah ... there's a little ... some thing ... " to, "EEEEEAAA AHAHAHAHAHAUUUUUUGG GGGHHHHH!" ... in about two weeks?