August 6, 2013
New Leaks Into Pacific at Japan Nuclear Plant
By MARTIN FACKLER
TOKYO — Tons of contaminated groundwater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have overwhelmed an underground barrier and are emptying daily into the Pacific, creating what a top regulator has called a crisis.
The water contains strontium and cesium, as well as tritium, which is considered less dangerous when released into the ocean. Despite increasing alarm among regulators in recent weeks, the plant’s operator says it does not yet pose a health threat because levels of the contaminants are still very low in the open ocean, beyond the plant’s man-made harbor — a contention even critics support.
But regulators and critics alike are worried because the company, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, has been unable to stop the flow of the contaminated water, which appears to have started between December and May. The company has also not yet conclusively identified the source of the contamination, compounding fears.