Groundwater at Fukushima power plant has been found to be highly contaminated with a toxic substance called strontium-90. The substance is a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors, as well as nuclear weapons.
TEPCO, the plant’s operator, might find it even more difficult now to get approval to release groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, groundwater that the operator described as contaminated with low levels of radiation.
TEPCO is being overwhelmed with contaminated liquids as it flushes water over the three reactors at the plant, the international press reports. Fukushima power plant was severely damaged two years ago, after a violent earthquake and tsunami.
High levels of tritium, a less harmful substance, had also been found, Toshihiko Fukuda, a general manager at TEPCO, said.
Tests showed that the level of strontium-90 had increased by more than 100 times between December and May, Fukuda added, but no groundwater contaminated with strontium-90 had leaked into the ocean, he thinks.
Earlier, the company tried to persuade the local fishermen that is safe to dump 100 tones of groundwater a day into the ocean, in order to ease the pressure at some of the plant’s storage facilities.