An estimated 5,500 liters of radioactive water leaked from Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant but no sign of contamination has been detected outside the facility, its operator said yesterday.
A spokeswoman from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said that the leak was detected at part of the plant that processes contaminated water.
“We estimate that roughly 5.5 tonnes [5,500 litres] of water leaked” on Wednesday morning, but “there have been no significant changes” at posts monitoring radioactivity around the power station, she said.
Photo Tokyo Electric Power Co via AFP
Even so, TEPCO plans to remove soil from around the area that might have been contaminated, the spokeswoman said, without providing specific details on the location of the leaked water.
The Fukushima plant was wrecked by a huge earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that killed 18,000 people. It was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
The clean-up operation is expected to take decades, with the most dangerous part — removing radioactive fuel and rubble from three stricken reactors — yet to begin.
In August last year, Japan began gradually releasing into the Pacific Ocean 1.34 million tonnes of treated wastewater that had collected since the catastrophe, saying it is harmless and heavily diluted with seawater.
This view is backed by the UN atomic watchdog, but China and Russia have criticized the release and banned Japanese seafood imports.
Wednesday’s leak took place at a facility which processes the water before most radioactive elements are filtered out at a different, advanced facility known as ALPS.
TEPCO said the leak from a vent was spotted by a worker who was cleaning the vent before operating the facility.
“Vents should be closed during cleaning, but this time they were open,” the spokeswoman said.
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