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
Temporary storage tanks for low-level radioactive polluted waters used for temporary cooling system in Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co., File)

(Newser) – 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. Click to read the AP's entire piece on the crisis. (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)

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