Just when one though the bad news out of Fukushima would trickle down, no pun intended, if only because purely statistically it was improbable that any more bad news would leak out, here comes TEPCO which at a press conference this morning announced that "roughly 300 tonnes of radioactive water has seeped from a storage tank, marking the worst leak in more than 2½ years of efforts to contain the effects of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami."
In other words, not only is the irradiated coolant water overflowing the storage tanks, it is also leaking straight into the environment, including the surrounding soil, ocean and who knows where else.
FT reports that at a press conference on Tuesday, Tokyo Electric Power said it had detected a leak in one of the tanks that store water used to cool melted uranium fuel rods. A puddle that formed near the tank was emitting a radiation dose of 100 millisieverts an hour when measured a short distance above the surface, Tepco said – about 350,000 times higher than natural background levels.
But don't panic: here comes the Japanese government to designate the leak as a trivial, "Level 1" incident on an 8 level scale. But at least finally the JNRA admitted the ongoing problems at the supposedly "contained" disaster site. On the other hand, what it would take for Japan to admit to a Level 8 emergency? Perhaps a Fukushimanado.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority classified the leak as a “level 1” incident, the lowest on an eight-point international scale. A spokesman confirmed that it is the first time the NRA has attached a so-called INES rating to an incident at Fukushima since the government-linked watchdog was established last September.
This month, after Tepco admitted that water laced with radioactive particles was probably ending up in the sea, having mixed with natural groundwater, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would “take steps” to deal with the problem “instead of leaving everything to Tepco”.
The disclosure of the leak, the fifth in a series of similar incidents since January, is likely to increase pressure on the Japanese government to deal more urgently with the flow of toxic water into the soil and seas surrounding the plant.
Well, that, or the Japanese government will simply do (we use the term loosely) more of the same, i.e., nothing, and Abe will just distract the irradiated population with stories of fame and fortune if they only buy the Nikkei, ignore the Japanese debt and demograhic time bomb, and just think happy, gamma ray-laced thoughts.