Fukushima nuclear power plant has probably been leaking radioactive water into the ocean since 2011, when a violent earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the plant, Shunichi Tanaka – Japan’s chief nuclear regulator, said on Wednesday.
Neither the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s staff nor Tepco, the plant’s operator, know for sure where the leaks were coming from, or how to stop them, Tanaka said.
Tepco has reported recently the presence of radioactive cesium, tritium and strontium in the groundwater at the plant, with the substances being known to raise risks of cancer in humans.
“We have seen for a fact that levels of radioactivity in the seawater remain high, and contamination continues – I do not think anyone can deny that,” Tanaka said, according to the international press. “We must take action as soon as possible.
“That said, considering the state of the plant, it is difficult to find a solution today or tomorrow,” he added. “That is probably not satisfactory to many of you. But that is the reality we face after an accident like this.”
“The water might be leaking out from the plant through damaged pipes or drains, or other routes Tepco does not know about,” Jota Kanda, an oceanographer at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology said. “We need to find out where exactly these leaks are, and plug them.”