New, highly radioactive leak is Fukushima's worst since August

100 tons of contaminated water spilled from the plant

Published February 20, 2014 2:45PM (EST)

It's been no news (which is always very good news) from Fukushima's damaged nuclear plant this year; but as experts warned last December, contaminated water at the site will continue to pose a major risk.

Now a new incident, the plant's operator announced Thursday, has seen 100 tons of highly radioactive water leak from a holding tank. It's the worst leak since last August, when 300 tons of contaminated water were spilled. Reuters reports:

"We are taking various measures, but we apologize for worrying the public with such a leak," said Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for the utility, also known as Tepco.

"Water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area."

Tepco said water overflowed from a large storage tank at the site late on Wednesday after a valve had remained open by mistake and sent too much contaminated water into a separate holding area.

A worker patrolling the area, around 700 metres from the ocean, spotted drips of water leaking through a drain attached to the side of the tank.

It's a reminder that Tepco is nowhere near completing the decommissioning process, which will likely take decades and give the public reason for concern throughout. Last week, the company also revealed that it had detected 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90 in a groundwater sample taken about 25 meters (82 feet) away from the ocean last September. The legal limit for releasing strontium? A mere 30 becquerels per liter.

By Lindsay Abrams

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Fukushima Japan Nuclear Power Radiation Tepco