[Marxism] Damaged Nuclear Plant in Japan Leaks Toxic Water
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Sat Apr 6 17:17:52 MDT 2013
NY Times April 6, 2013
Damaged Nuclear Plant in Japan Leaks Toxic Water
By MARTIN FACKLER
TOKYO — Tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water leaked from a
large underground storage pool at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant, and
thousands more gallons could seep out before the faulty pool can be
emptied, the plant’s operator said Saturday.
About 120 tons, or almost 32,000 gallons, of highly contaminated water
appeared to have breached the inner protective lining of the pool at the
Fukushima Daiichi plant, said the operator, Tokyo Electric Power
Company. It was unclear how much of the water had made it through two
additional layers of lining to reach soil, but radiation levels outside
the pool have risen, a sign that some water is getting out, said the
company, known as Tepco.
The leak highlights the daunting challenge of what to do with the huge
amounts of contaminated water created by makeshift cooling systems at
the plant, after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out its regular
cooling systems two years ago in the worst nuclear accident since
Chernobyl. Since then, Tepco has essentially been pouring water onto the
damaged reactor cores and storage ponds to keep them from overheating.
As it is used for cooling, the water becomes so contaminated that it
must be safely stored at the plant. Tepco said it was already storing
more than a quarter-million tons of radioactive water in hundreds of
large silver or blue tanks that seem to fill every available space at
the plant, or in underground pools like the leaking one. With the
decommissioning of the Fukushima plant likely to take decades, Tepco has
said it expects the amount of radioactive water to keep growing, and
possibly more than double within three years. The company has said it is
building more storage space and new filtering facilities to clean the water.
The company said the leak appeared to be the biggest since the early
months after the March 2011 disaster, when leaks allowed contaminated
water to flow into the nearby Pacific Ocean. Tepco said that this time,
it did not expect any of the toxic water to reach the sea, since the
pool is half a mile from the coast.
Still, Tepco said it had begun pumping the remaining 13,000 tons of
water out of the faulty pool and into a similar pool. The pools are like
large ponds dug into the ground, protected by multiple layers of plastic
sheets and covered with dirt.
Emptying the damaged pool could take five more days, the company said,
during which time an additional 47 tons, or about 12,000 gallons, could
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