TOKYO, March 29 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Tuesday that radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had not been confirmed to have leaked into the Pacific Ocean from the plant’s underground drainage system. XINHUA reported on Tuesday.
The agency maintained that water levels at the channels located between 50 and 70 meters from the shore have remained consistent and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the radiation- leaking plant, said they have taken preventative measures to ensure water doesn’t flow from the plant into the sea.
According to the nuclear safety agency, the utility firm has protected the drainage system with concrete blocks and sandbags.
Today’s announcement and preventative measures come after high levels of radiation were detected in a drainage system and damaged reactor buildings whose structural integrity and key cooling functions were compromised by the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The troubled No. 2 reactor’s core has been partially melted, leaving TEPCO and the agency to believe the water came into contact with the melted fuel rods, causing the level of radiation to surge over the past four days.
The surge in radiation suggests that the reactor’s containment vessel may have been damaged and in the basement of the No. 2 reactor’s turbine building, water containing radioactive substances 100,000 times higher than usual has been detected and is increasing, the nuclear safety agency said.
TEPCO has been working to remove the contaminated water from the No. 1 reactor by pumping the water from the basements into the reactor’s turbine condenser for storage, but has run into difficulties as some of the temporary storage units near other reactor buildings have become full.
Hence, progress to remove contaminated water from the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors’ turbine buildings has been significantly delayed.
On a positive note, the nuclear safety agency on Tuesday said that workers managed to restore lighting in the control room of the No. 4 unit, meaning all six of the plant’s reactors now have lighting.
But adding to the ever-evolving crisis at the plant, highly toxic plutonium has been found in soil at five separate locations at the facility.
TEPCO said the levels of plutonium found were small, but a spokesperson for TEPCO said at a press conference that it was ” deplorable” that plutonium had escaped, despite the plant’s containment measures.
Such sentiments were reiterated by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano who said the situation is “very serious” and suggests “a certain degree of melting of fuel rods.”
Japan’s nuclear safety agency said it is highly worried about the radioactivity of the plutonium samples detected as plutonium is more toxic than other radioactive substances such as iodine and cesium.
Plutonium emits alpha radiation and low-energy x-rays which are easily absorbed by human tissue.
Roughly 80 percent of the plutonium that enters the bloodstream goes either to the liver, bone or bone marrow, where it is retained for years, damaging tissue nearby and possibly resulting in cancer.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan, meanwhile, told a parliament session Tuesday that it is “highly likely” that the six-reactor Fukushima plant will eventually be decommissioned, echoing the words of Edano who suggested as much last week. (*)