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. (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)