Updated Feb. 27, 2015, Xinhua: ” TOKYO, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) — Local fisherman in Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Daichi nuclear power station, blamed the plant’s operator on Wednesday for knowingly allowing radioactive substances from a rainwater drainage ditch linked to one of its buildings to flow freely into the sea since April last year.
The leader of a local fishing corporative, Masakazu Yabuki, lambasted the embattled utility for its latest gaffe, four years after a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami breached the plant’s defenses, leading to multiple nuclear meltdowns and the worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
“I don’t understand why you (TEPCO) kept silent about the leakage even though you knew about it. Fishery operators are absolutely shocked,” Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, told TEPCO officials at a meeting.
TEPCO confessed on Tuesday that it had found a pool of highly- radioactive water on the roof of one of its buildings, which had likely been leaking into the sea via a drainage ditch when it rained.
The embattled utility said it had been aware of the leak since April last year, and it stems from the roof of the building of the No. 2 reactor, where it has detected 29,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter at the site of the roof. These readings are more than 10 times higher than readings taken at other sites on the roof, TEPCO said.
TEPCO also said that water containing 52,000 becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances such as strontium-90, were also detected.
The latest admission comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the International Olympic Committee in September 2013 that all radiation leaks at the tsunami-ravaged plant were “under control.”
Ironically, earlier this year Abe’s government announced that TEPCO would be the Main Sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, despite the fact that more than 140,000 people still remain displaced following the 2011 disaster in Japan’s northeast.
As local, national and international fury once again rises at the hapless utility, TEPCO maintained that the contaminated water that has been freely leaking into the Pacific Ocean, does not violate regulations, because the outflow of radiation from the plant is controlled by monitoring radiation levels in sea water, and the Nuclear Regulation Agency (NRA) has not detected a spike in the sea’s radiation.
But experts and skeptics have been quick to point out that the NRA, as Japan’s nuclear watchdog, falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and thus doesn’t work autonomously from the government, who itself has pumped trillions of yen to end the ongoing nuclear crisis at the plant, with the utility now effectively under state control.
On Wednesday, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka resignedly urged the plant operator, whose history of attempting to conceal its blunders has appalled the international community, to disclose such information more swiftly.
In the latest indication that the crisis at the plant is far from under control, TEPCO officials tried to gain the approval from local fisherman to pump radioactive water from its well at the plant, before the water could leak into ditches near reactor buildings and become even more contaminated.
Chief of the Soma Futaba fisheries cooperative, Hiroyuki Sato, took aim at the lackadaisical utility, stating that the latest incident had completely “destroyed trust between the operator and local fishermen.”
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori also said during the meeting Wednesday with TEPCO that the current situation is wholly ” regrettable,” adding that once again, “a problem which causes anxiety to people in Fukushima has occurred, and that information was not disclosed immediately.”
Uchibori, highlighting the mistrust of the utility, the central government and the government’s nuclear watchdog, said local city officials and its own nuclear experts would be conducting inspections at the Daiichi facility.
In stark contrast to TEPCO’s own readings and running contrary to the fact that the runaway utility failed for almost one year to disclose the leak, Japan’s top government spokesperson reiterated the government’s long-standing mantra that the situation is under control.
“The situation is completely under control and radiation levels in the ocean outside an enclosed port area adjacent to the plant are well below the legal limits. Any negative impact of radioactive water on the environment is completely blocked,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.
As the nuclear crisis rumbles on in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan ‘s nuclear regulator this month gave safety clearance to two more nuclear reactors that were idled in the wake of the 2011 disaster.
Despite Abe being a staunch supporter of bringing the nation’s nuclear power stations back online, however, as a comparatively weak yen has continued to push up the price of Japan’s fossil fuel imports, all of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors currently remain offline due to safety concerns and ongoing checks. ”
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Posted Feb. 26, 2015, The Japan Times: read “Fisheries ‘shocked’ at silence over water leak at wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant”