Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on Tuesday confirmed the third radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The liquid leaked from an underground storage tank.
Suspicion of a leak at the No. 1 tank arose after TEPCO started transferring contaminated water inside the No. 2 underground tank where leakage was detected over the weekend, according to Kyodo news agency.
TEPCO said the radioactive water is unlikely to flow into the sea and that it is considering removing the water inside the two tanks to other water tanks at the site, given the difficulty of relying on the underground cisterns.
Another two leaks were reported last week at the Fukushima nuclear plant. About 120 tons of contaminated water leaked into the ground from a tank last Friday night, while on Sunday a second leak was reported, this time smaller, with about three liters of radioactive water seeping into the soil.
Seven water storage tanks were excavated at Fukushima nuclear plant after a violent 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011 crippled the plant’s ability to cool its reactors. Although at that time TEPCO tried to cool the reactors using seawater, three of them melted down.
The problems with the cooling system are still an issue for TEPCO, as a massive power outage caused the plant’s cooling system to fail for 29 hours about three weeks ago. The cause seems to have been a small rodent that had entered an electrical switchboard. TEPCO added last Friday that it could not cool one of the reactors for about three hours due to a technical problem.
Cleaning up the Fukushima site will take about 40 years and will cost at least $13 billion, according to the Japanese government.