The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO, did not release proper data on the radiation leaks that followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, experts in the nuclear industry say. They think the company, even if completely silent about it, currently faces a “massive problem”: it needs to store more and more contaminated water used to cool down the crippled reactors.
By mid-May, almost 100,000 tons of toxic water had leaked in the Fukushima plant buildings and surrounding areas, but the quantity may double by the end of the year. “Contaminated water is increasing and this is a massive problem,” said Tetsuo Iguchi, a specialist in radiation detection at Nagoya University, quoted by Bloomberg.
The company will have to spend Y42 billion ($518 million) only to decontaminate the toxic water, according to its own estimates. TEPCO has to deal with special technology to do the job and cannot allow the contaminated water to go into the soil.
An international team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency is currently visiting the nuclear plant to find out more about the accident and the reaction. The latest data that TEPCO and Japan’s nuclear regulators have disclosed on the total radiation levels was published on April 12.
Public distrust in TEPCO’s management and the Japanese government is rising sharply. The perception that the government is hiding information “is a grave situation for the entire nuclear energy administration as much as the accident itself is”, Chief Cabin Secretary Yukio Edano said on Friday.
Experts doubt TEPCO’s honesty at least as much. “Tepco knows more than they’ve said about the amount of radiation leaking from the plant,” Jan van de Putte, a Dutch specialist in radiation safety, said on Thursday. “What we need is a full disclosure, a full inventory of radiation released including the exact isotopes.” [Bloomberg]
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