Tons of Fukushima's Tainted Water Entering Pacific
And we literally mean tons, some 300 a day
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2013 7:26 AM CDT
Updated Aug 7, 2013 7:45 AM CDT
In this Wednesday, June 12, 2013 photo, a construction worker walks beside the underground water tank and water tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, Japan.   (AP Photo/Toshifumi Kitamura, Pool)

(Newser) – Things have gone from bad to worse to this at Fukushima: A government official says roughly 300 tons of contaminated water are leaking from the crippled nuclear plant into the Pacific each day. The New York Times paints a mental picture: That's enough to fill one Olympic-sized pool per week. And according to a second official, you may want to visualize a lot of pools. Per Reuters, he told reporters that the government suspects water has been leaking for two years (though it's not clear if it has been doing so at the 300-ton rate); the Times' estimate is more modest but no less sobering: It dates the leak to back to sometime between December and May.

More worrisome still, Tepco has "not yet conclusively" pinpointed the source of the leak, though many experts second the company's assertion that the amount of radioactive materials (strontium, cesium, tritium) entering the sea is so low it's not worrisome. In an only-halfway reassuring statement, an American nuclear expert calls the strontium release "small potatoes" when compared to what was emitted in the initial stages of the disaster. Those kinds of assessments have apparently not appeased officials; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today ordered the government to intervene for the first time. Under consideration, per the AP: a multibillion-dollar project to surround the reactor buildings with a wall to block underground water.

View 3 more images
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Tons of Fukushima's Tainted Water Entering Pacific is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 26 comments
Aug 11, 2013 6:59 PM CDT
"A news report says Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant was so unprepared for the disaster that workers had to bring protective gear and instruction manuals from elsewhere and borrow equipment from a contractor. The report, released by operator Tokyo Electric Co, is based on interviews of workers and plant data. It portrays chaos in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect the Fukushima plant from meltdown, and shows that workers struggled with unfamiliar equipment." Fukushima Running Out of Room for Toxic Water There's 200K tons of contaminated water and counting By Liam Carnahan, Newser Staff Posted Oct 25, 2012 11:29 AM CDT – If you thought the environmental crisis that is Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant was last year's news, think again. The plant is still struggling with thousands of tons of contaminated water, which it used to cool down overheated reactors following the 2011 earthquake, says the water treatment manager at the plant. The water must be stored, because it's too toxic to be dumped anywhere else, but there's so much of it—200,000 tons—that they're running out of space. If you have a hard time imagining that amount, think of 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools. What's worse, the amount of toxic water is expected to triple within three years thanks to ground water seeping in through cracks in Fukushima's basement, and leaks in the reactors themselves. It's hard to fix any of those holes, because the area is too radioactive for even robots, let alone humans, to approach. Right now the water is stored in enormous tanks around the facility, and there is hope that a treatment system could make the water safe enough to dump in the ocean. But that, of course, brings up other environmental headaches. "Scientists have found traces of radioactivity in fish off the California coast that migrated from the waters off of Japan, site of the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster of 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The researchers say the evidence is unequivocal. The young tuna were found to be contaminated with two radioactive forms of the element cesium from Fukushima." "Japanese whalers caught 2 animals along the northern coast that had traces of radiation from leaks at a damaged nuclear power plant, officials said. 2 of 17 minke whales caught off the Pacific coast of Hokkaido showed traces of radioactive cesium, both about 1/20th of the legal limit, fisheries officials said. They are the first whales thought to have been affected by radiation leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant since it was hit by a 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami." nhjournal. com
Aug 7, 2013 9:38 PM CDT
We just won't be happy until we poison all of our waters to the point that radioactive birds hoist giant flying whales from the ocean hellbent with tyrannical plans of limiting our access to social networking services during major news events.
Aug 7, 2013 9:11 PM CDT
Maybe this explains all the weird stuff that comes out of Japan.