Sunday, April 3, 2011

Radioactive water seeps into Pacific Ocean

Photo taken from a distance of 40 kilometers shows four of the six reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Source: Press TV

Highly radioactive water from the quake-hit Fukushima plant has been confirmed to have seeped into the Pacific Ocean as Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) says it has found a possible source of radiation leak.

Radioactive water seeping into the Pacific Ocean has raised wider fears of radioactive contamination as the nuclear crisis in Japan enters its fourth week.

Japanese officials grappling on Sunday to end the nuclear crisis tried to seal a crack in a concrete pit that has been leaking radiation into the ocean from a crippled reactor.

TEPCO said it had detected a 20-centimeter crack in a concrete pit at its No.2 reactor in the Fukushima nuclear power plant on Saturday, generating readings 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside, Reuters reported.

The plant operator, TEPCO, says it will try to block the leakage on Sunday.

Meanwhile, TEPCO continues to try to remove radioactive water from inside buildings at the Fukushima complex.

The leaks did not stop after concrete was poured into the pit, and TEPCO was turning to water-absorbent polymers to prevent any more contaminated water from going out.

"We are hoping that the polymers will absorb water and fill in the pipe to prevent water from flowing," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

He said the latest effort to staunch the flow of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean would start on Sunday afternoon and that workers would top the polymers with more concrete to hold in the water.

According to officials from the utility, no cracks were found after checking of the other five reactors.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has made his first visit to the disaster zone.

The nuclear plant has been spewing radioactivity since March 11, when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami knocked out power, disabling cooling systems and allowing radiation to seep out of the overheating reactors.

The government has ordered the evacuation of about 200,000 people living in a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius around the plant, and told people residing between 20 kilometers and 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the plant to remain indoors.

Some nuclear experts say the disaster is much bigger than the one in Chernobyl back in 1986.

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