The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that 300 tones of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant flows to the Pacific everyday. Masayuki Ono, TEPCO's acting nuclear power chief says, "It’s a present reality that contaminated water is seeping out into Pacific, and we are unable to control it. This is an extremely serious issue."
Japanese authorities are working in crisis mode, attempting to assure the public both at home and abroad that the situation will not further deteriorate into a widespread environmental catastrophe. The government plans to reduce the leakage amount to 60 tons per day by early December, but given the Japanese government’s progress in the cleanup to date that goal may be difficult to achieve. For the past two years, TEPCO has claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially-constructed storage tanks. Workers have built more than 1,000 tanks but 85 percent of the 380.000 tons of storage capacity have already been filled. TEPCO predicts it could run out of space. The tanks are built from parts of disassembled old containers mixed with new parts. Steel bolts in the tanks are expected to corrode in a few years.
The Company was forced to admit late last month that radioactive water was still escaping into the Pacific Ocean. It detected 2.35 billion becquerels (the normal level is 150 becquerels) of cesium per liter in water that is now leaking into the groundwater through cracks in the plant’s drainage system. The company engineers have constructed a barrier between the destroyed facility and the ocean, it only extends 1.8 meters (6 feet) below the ground, thus water continues to accumulate inside the plant vaults.
Not only is TEPCO running up against technical problems associated with the cleanup efforts, it must also deal with the unpredictable force of nature, specifically in the form of earthquakes. On Sunday, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi, the northeastern region of the island country.