Japanese officials allowed owners of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant to empty tanks holding 10,000 tons of slightly radioactive water into the ocean – in order to make room to pump highly contaminated water out of reactor No. 2.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. / Kyodo News / AP
Radioactive water continued to drain from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, as Japanese officials mounted a desperate effort to find and plug the source of the leak.
On Saturday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) thought it had discovered the leak’s headwaters – a crack in a concrete pit near reactor No. 2. TEPCO workers poured concrete into the pit to close the breach, but the leak continued.
On Sunday, workers broke through the top of a connecting trench and dumped in a mix of sawdust, newsprint, and absorbent polymers in an attempt to glue the leak shut. That didn’t work either, noted the International Atomic Energy Agency in a Monday update on Fukushima’s status: “Leaking has not stopped.”
As the Fukushima crisis passes the three-week mark, the thousands of tons of water – used to keep crippled reactors and spent-fuel pools cool – are becoming an increasing concern.