The grounds at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were once alive with the sounds of nesting wild birds. But that was before the Great East Japan Earthquake.
With an increasing amount of contaminated water to be stored, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's operator, has chopped down thousands of trees on the premises to make way for storage tanks for the radioactive water.
Before the March 11 disaster, a plot of woods called "Yacho-no-mori (wild bird forest)" spanned 370,000 square meters, about eight times larger than Tokyo Dome, and was home to many native wild bird species. Nowadays, much of that space is home to giant metal storage tanks.
The view of the plant from an Asahi Shimbun helicopter showed that blue and gray tanks are filling up the space where wild birds once took wing.
The combined capacity of all tanks at the plant has exceeded 110,000 tons as of Nov. 17.
Water used to cool reactors at the plant, as well as ground water, has continued to flow into the basement of the plant's reactor buildings after being contaminated. TEPCO has treated the water before transferring it into the tanks.
Currently, the tanks hold a total of about 90,000 tons of contaminated water, or 80 percent of their capacity. TEPCO still has about 80,000 tons of radioactive water remaining in the basements of the buildings of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors.
TEPCO initially planned to dispose of all contaminated water at the site through purification processes by the end of this year, but with a greater inflow of ground water than expected, the prospect of realizing that goal now appears bleak.
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