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

(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.

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)
This aerial photo taken on July 9, 2013 shows reactor buildings Unit 2, left, and Unit 1 at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuama, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
This May 7, 2011 file image shows spent fuel storage pool of the Unit 4 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co., File)
Red and white cranes stand by reactors of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Monday, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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