The latest news in the efforts to stop a catastrophic event at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan is that highly contaminated water has pushed through a crack in the No. 2 reactor, and is leaking into the ocean. Officials at the plant tried to use an absorbent powder, sawdust and even shredded newspaper to block the leak, but so far, nothing has worked.
Experts estimate that about 7 tons an hour of radioactive water is escaping the pit. Safety officials have said that the water, which appears to be coming from the damaged No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, contains one million Becquerels per liter of iodine 131, or about 10,000 times levels normally found in water at a nuclear facility.
“There is still a steady stream of water from the pit,” Mr. Nishiyama said, but workers would continue to “observe and evaluate” the situation overnight.
I am by no means an expert, but based on a couple conversations that I’ve had, I believe that contamination seeping into the groundwater is a somewhat more dangerous proposition than radioactive water dumping into a large ocean. However, the effect on marine life will almost certainly be grave. Furthermore, the radioactive pools of water that have popped up around the plant, and this latest setback, make it harder for workers to move around the plant and to focus on the core problem of preventing a meltdown by cooling down the reactors and the storage facility for the spent fuel rods.
In an unusual political development, the Japanese people are quickly tiring of TEPCO’s assurances and attempt to promote calm:
There are also frequent protests at the company’s headquarters in the Uchisaiwai-cho neighborhood of central Tokyo. On Sunday, several hundred anti-nuclear protestors assembled in front of Tokyo Electric’s offices and then marched to Kasumigaseki to protest in front of the offices of Japan’s nuclear regulators.
The protesters yelled slogans like, “Tokyo Electric, get out of nuclear energy,” and “Compensate the victims.” Others called for the company and government to apologize.
Some carried placards that said, “Even if we don’t have nuclear power, we’ll still have electricity.”“
“The Japanese people don’t protest usually, but this time, we have to show that we can call for change,” said Masanobu Takeshi, 40, who attended with his wife and son.
Japanese nuclear regulatory officials said Sunday that the crisis could drag on for several months before order would be restored to the facility. That means many more opportunities for political pressure on TEPCO, as well as many more potential pitfalls along the road to stability.
The bodies of two workers at the Fukushima plant, missing since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, were found today.