Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government will take the initiative in dealing with the leak of radioactive water from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
"The government will work as one to do its utmost," Abe said at an Aug. 28 news conference in Qatar, a stop on his tour of Middle East nations. "The government will deal with the situation responsibly, and will keep both domestic and foreign audiences well informed."
Abe also emphasized that the Fukushima nuclear disaster should not be left for Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, to handle alone, but that the government should also engage in earnest efforts to tackle the situation, including how to deal with the growing stockpile of radioactive water.
Meantime, industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Aug. 28 that he will consider using taxpayer money to expand the Alps, a device designed to remove radioactive substances from contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
"The central government will take it upon itself to install more channels if there is a need to do so," Motegi told Yuhei Sato, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture.
The Alps device, which currently has three channels, has yet to finish trial runs prior to becoming fully operational.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Aug. 28 that it has formally raised the severity evaluation of the leak of 300 tons of highly radioactive water from a surface tank to Level 3 (serious incident) on the eight-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). The leak was discovered Aug. 19.
The crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which involved triple reactor meltdowns and hydrogen explosions, was evaluated as a "major accident," the highest on the INES scale at Level 7.
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