Groundwater tritium levels soar near Fukushima radioactive water leak site

September 12, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Tritium levels sampled from a well near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant storage tank that leaked 300 tons of highly radioactive water by August exceeded the legal limit of 60,000 becquerels per liter, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sept. 11.

The samples, taken Sept. 10, registered 64,000 becquerels of tritium per liter and came from the well lying 20 meters north of the storage tank, according to TEPCO.

That is a significant spike compared to samples taken Sept. 9 that registered 29,000 becquerels per liter of water.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

Meanwhile, levels of radioactive strontium detected in the well dropped from 3,200 becquerels per liter of water sampled on Sept. 8 to 2,000 becquerels per liter two days later.

Strontium is believed to accumulate in bones and can cause bone cancer and leukemia.

TEPCO also released ground radiation level readings taken while it was drilling the test well. The utility said it detected beta ray levels of up to 0.09 millisievert per hour at depths of between 2.5 and nearly 4 meters from the surface.

TEPCO said it plans to dig more wells to gauge both the expanse and depth of the radioactive contamination.

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  • Storage tanks to hold radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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