[Marxism] Damaged Nuclear Plant in Japan Leaks Toxic Water

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
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 
leak.




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