TEPCO: Fukushima leak likely water used to cool nuclear fuel

January 20, 2014

By AKIRA HATANO/ Staff Writer

Radiation levels indicate the leak discovered within the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant involves water used to cool melted nuclear fuel, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Jan. 19.

“The leaked water is highly likely to have come from the water that was already used to cool fuel rods, and not from leaked rainwater or cooling water (on its way to the reactor),” a TEPCO official said.

TEPCO said earlier that contaminated water was discovered on the first floor of the plant’s damaged No. 3 reactor building. At the time, the utility said water was flowing into the basement and not outside the building.

Due to high radiation levels, the company used a robot to take a water sample. An analysis found that the concentration of radioactive materials was higher in the leaked water than in water destined to be used to cool the reactor or rainwater.

The water sample contained 2.4 million becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium, while the reading for substances emitting beta rays, including strontium, reached 24 million becquerels per liter.

The temperature of the leaked water was around 20 degrees, also higher than that of unused cooling water and rainwater, TEPCO said.

The leak is the latest in a series that has plagued work in the sprawling nuclear complex. Storage tanks for radioactive water have leaked at the site, and groundwater has entered the basements of reactor buildings and mixed with contaminated water.

By AKIRA HATANO/ Staff Writer
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An aerial view of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. From back left, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactor buildings are seen. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

An aerial view of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. From back left, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactor buildings are seen. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • An aerial view of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. From back left, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactor buildings are seen. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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