” FUKUSHIMA — The operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant said on Dec. 2 that it has detected radioactive materials that topped 36,000 times the permissible level in underground water extracted in the area.
According to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), strontium-90 and other radioactive substances that emit beta rays were detected at a level of 1.1 million becquerels per liter in underground water pumped up from an observatory well on Nov. 28. The well is located at a sea bank east of the No. 2 reactor, about 40 meters from the ocean.
The amount of detected radioactive materials hit the highest level since Nov. 25, which marked 910,000 becquerels per liter of underground water. The national allowable emission level for strontium-90, a typical radioactive isotope that emits beta rays, is less than 30 becquerels per liter of water.
TEPCO said radioactive levels in seawater within the harbor around the plant do not show any major change.
It has been feared that highly contaminated water is leaking to the ground from a trench that stretches from the No. 2 reactor building to the sea bank. The radioactive isotope detected this time suggests the possibility of radioactive materials remaining outside the trench.
Noriyuki Imaizumi, acting manager of TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, told a news conference that the company needs to investigate the matter in relation to other radioactive substances that leaked before. ”