Typhoon Man-yi brought heavy rain and wind to Japan Monday, raising concerns over the fragile cleanup at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Workers already struggle to contain contaminated wastewater, and rain from Typhoon Man-yi adds to the complications at Fukushima.
The last thing cleanup workers at Fukushima need is a typhoon, but a typhoon is what they're getting.
Heavy rain and winds clocking in at 100 miles per hour slammed into Japan Monday. Typhoon Man-yi caused at least two fatalities and stirred fears at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On a typical day, workers have struggled to contain the 400 tons of contaminated water they pump out of the plant. Added rain from Typhoon Man-yi makes matters more complicated.
"The typhoon has little chance of destabilizing the reactors, but it will certainly add more water to a site already crowded with hastily assembled steel storage tanks and relatively poor oversight," Daniel Aldrich, a political scientist at Purdue University who has been following the Fukushima disaster, wrote in an e-mail.
As rain fell, workers pumped accumulating water from around those storage tanks into the Pacific Ocean in an effort to prevent flooding and radioactive contamination. That rainwater was untainted, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the plant's operator. But Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority said such a discharge could be subject to nuclear safety rules and was checking radiation levels.
The company also added new walls around the storage tanks to prevent future leaks in the run-up to the typhoon. Workers weighed down cranes and other materials to minimize wind damage.