08/21/2013, 00.00

Fukushima leaks radioactive water. Government faces nuclear emergency

After the Japanese executive’s admission Tepco raises the situation of the eastern coasts of the country to a "level 3", or "serious accident". In recent days, more than 300 tons of radioactive water has leaked from a tank at the nuclear power plant affected by the earthquake of 11 March 2011.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Fear has returned to haunt the eastern coast of Japan this morning, after the Japanese Nuclear Agency raised the alert to "Level 3" (or "serious accident" on the International Nuclear Event Scale) following the leaking of 300 tons of highly radioactive water from the Fukushima plant. The classification at level 3 (out of a scale of up to 7) is equivalent to the "release of a large amount of radioactive material from inside the installation."

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) confirmed the leak two days ago. In addition, the company engineers - acting on behalf of the government as "liquidator" of radioactive material still present in the damaged plant - have said that some of the leaked material has seeped into the ground. The tank is one of 26 installed next to the reactor 4 and the tanks are surrounded by a low barrier low.

TEPCO now plans to remove the soil near the damaged tank and measure radiation levels in the area to determine the extent of the radioactive water leakage from the nuclear plant. The company also had to admit that there is a record concentration of tritium - a radioactive isotope of hydrogen emitted from nuclear power plants - in the sea in front of Fukushima Daiichi. The samples taken on August 15 not far from the reactor 1 contain a tritium level of 4,700 becquerels per liter, up from 3,800 Bq / l of 11 August. The water taken on August 15 near the reactor 2 contains 2,600 Bq / L of tritium.

This is the highest level of leakage since the nuclear disaster. The radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean around the Fukushima power plant is due to leakage of the water contained in the basement of the reactor (and now also in the emergency tanks) but Tepco can not explain the increased levels of isotopes from May 2013 . At the end of June, the plant had detected a tritium concentration of 1,100 Bq / l in the sea, 25 meters from the coast. The normal level in clean waters is about 50Bq / l, but can reach up to 350 Bq / l before generating problems.

On 11 March 2011, an earthquake hit the eastern coast of Japan, causing a huge tsunami - with waves of over 40 meters high - which swept the area of ​​Fukushima and its nuclear power plants. The magnitude 9 earthquake had a catastrophic impact: 15,850 dead, 6,011 wounded and 3,287 missing; 800 thousand buildings destroyed; fires in many areas, roads and railways damaged; dams breached. Four million families in the Northeast were left without electricity and a million without water.



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