Tokyo Electric Power Co. has detected radioactive cesium in groundwater previously deemed clean at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, dealing a blow to plans to dump the water into the ocean.
TEPCO, the plant’s operator, on June 3 acknowledged that it miscalculated the influence of background radiation when it measured radioactivity levels of the groundwater in storage tanks in mid-April. At that time, the company said contamination of the water was negligible.
However, new measurements found a low level of cesium at 0.61 becquerel per liter, a TEPCO official said.
Although that level is still lower than the utility’s standard for dumping the water into the ocean, fishermen operating in the area of the plant were furious about TEPCO’s latest mistake.
“(Our approval for the plan to) discharge groundwater into the sea has certainly taken a step backward,” Masakazu Yabuki, who heads the Iwaki city fisheries cooperative, said angrily.
The Fukushima prefectural government has instructed TEPCO to take thorough and proper measurements of the water.
Groundwater continues to pour into the basement levels of damaged nuclear plant buildings that are already flooded with contaminated water. TEPCO is running out of storage space for the water used to cool the reactors, and some of its underground tanks have been leaking.
To alleviate the water-storage problem, TEPCO plans to pump up the groundwater from wells on the plant’s premises, confirm the safety of the water, and dump it into the ocean.
The central government and TEPCO on May 30 said the groundwater contamination was negligible in a meeting with local fishermen.
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