TEPCO: 45 Tons Of Radioactive Water May Have Reached Pacific Ocean

"The cat's still on the roof, and we're having a lot of trouble getting her down..." More bad news from TEPCO:

TOKYO — At least 45 tons of highly radioactive water has leaked from a purification facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator said on Sunday.

The new radioactive water leak called into question the progress that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, appeared to have made in bringing its reactors under control. The company, known as Tepco, has said that it hopes to bring the plant to a stable state known as a cold shutdown by the end of the year.

The trouble on Sunday came in two stages, a Tepco statement said. In the morning, utility workers found that radioactive water was flooding a catchment next to a purification device; the device was then switched off, and the leak appeared to stop. But the company said it later discovered that leaked water was escaping through a crack in the catchment’s concrete wall and was reaching an external gutter.

In all, as much as 220 tons of water may now have leaked from the facility, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that cited Tepco officials.

The newspaper says the water may have contained up to one million times as much radioactive strontium as the maximum safe level set by the government, and about 300 times as much radioactive cesium. Both are readily absorbed by living tissue and can greatly increase the risk of developing cancer.

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