Fukushima Has Massive Leak of Contaminated Water

And Japan is considering an ice wall to fix it

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 20, 2013 8:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Fukushima Dai-ichi nightmare just got even more nightmarish. A storage tank at the devastated nuclear plant has sprung a leak, spilling out roughly 300 tons of contaminated water, Reuters reports. And by contaminated, we mean that standing within a couple feet of it for an hour would give a worker five times the annual upper limit on radiation exposure. "We failed to discover the leak at an early stage," a Tepco official says, which means the monitoring system needs to be checked as well.

The ongoing breach comes on top of the the groundwater leaks officials already knew about. To deal with those leaks, officials have devised an ambitious plan to freeze the soil around the plant into a massive wall of ice, National Geographic reports. Refrigerators like those used to cool hockey rinks would pump coolant through tubes built vertically into the ground. "There is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall ... on such a large scale," Japan's chief Cabinet secretary said yesterday, according to the Japan Times.

Workers wearing protective gears take a survey near tanks of radiation contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, March 6, 2013.
Workers wearing protective gears take a survey near tanks of radiation contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, March 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Issei Kato, Pool, File)
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.
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)
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