More Problems at Fukushima

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted December 5, 2011

It’s been almost nine months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

And nine months later, the plant is still facing horrifyingly dangerous problems.

On Monday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TYO: 9501), also known as Tepco, announced the discovery of another radioactive leak at the site.

According to the Washington Post, 45 tons, or about 300 liters, of “highly radioactive water” leaked from the plant until the problem was discovered on Sunday afternoon.

The water had come through a crack in a condensation unit and drained into a gutter that led to the Pacific Ocean.

It will take some time before Tepco can discover exactly how much of this radioactive water made it into the ocean.  As soon as the leak was discovered, sandbags were used to block the crack, but plenty of water still made it out.

Immediate measurements from the water discovered around the leak showed “16,000 bequerels per liter of cesium-134, and 29,000 bequerels per liter of cesium-137,” reported the Washington Post, levels that are hundreds of times higher than safety limits.

And cesium-137, the article reports, is the most disconcerting, considering it has a half-life of 30 years.  It sticks around for a long time and the radiation it produces has been known to cause cancer.

Xinhua speculates that the water also contained strontium, a substance linked to bone cancer.

Tepco plans to send the factory into cold shutdown by the end of 2011, Washington Post reports, something the company has been working on ever since the initial disaster.

But cooling the system off has been a challenge, and despite the new cooling system installed just months ago, leaks have not been contained.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the biggest concerns is pollution to marine life in the coastal area.  Food pollution could affect the citizens of Japan in a totally different way.

Tokyo Electric Power Company was down .35% on Monday to $282.

That’s all for now,


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