In yet another reminder that tsunamis and nuclear power plants don’t mix, officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co Incorporated (TYO:9501) (OTCMKTS:TKECF) reported that there had been another leak of radioactive water at the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant late Wednesday. The Fukushima nuclear reactor was badly damaged by the disastrous tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, and is still trying to come to grips with the monumental task of decontamination and rebuilding.
Good news / bad news
Today’s Fukushima news is a classic good news – bad news situation. The good news is that TEPCO is reporting there was no leakage of the radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
The bad news is the leak was of partly treated water from the initial disaster at the plant, so the water was much more radioactive than previous leaks. The contaminated water overflowed a barrier around a tank and is being absorbed into the ground, according to TEPCO’s statement. The statement concludes by saying further inflow of water into the tank has stopped and the leak is under control.
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Background on Fukushima
The northeast coast of Japan was struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. This disaster killed thousands and caused at least partial meltdowns at three of the reactors at the huge Fukushima facility relatively close to the coast.
The clean up and repair of the nuclear plant after the disaster has been difficult and slow. The facility has been trying to store the huge volumes of radioactive water in a vast collection of tanks and containers. However, TEPCO has struggled to manage all the radioactive water, with almost a dozen leaks reported in 2013 alone.
Given domestic and international outcry regarding the leaks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has publicly stated they plan to intervene to help TEPCO deal with the toxic water crisis at the plant.