– Leaking water storage tanks at Fukushima ‘hastily built’ (Telegraph, Sep 2, 2013):
Storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant to hold radioactive water were constructed in haste and with little concern for safety, according to a member of an emergency team that built the tanks.
The whistleblower told Kyodo News that it was feared even while construction was going on that the steel tanks would leak.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted last week that an estimated 300 tons of water had escaped from one of the tanks, leaving “hot spots” of pools of radioactive water. Further checks over the weekend have revealed three more points within the plant where radiation levels are unexpectedly high.
The radiation reading at one of the locations was 1,800 millisieverts per hour. Experts say that exposure to that amount of radiation for four hours could kill a human.
“We gave priority to making the tanks rather than quality control,” the construction worker said. “There were fears that toxic water could leak.
“All of the tanks are makeshift and more toxic water may leak as they deteriorate,” he added.
The 1,000-ton unit that has been confirmed as the source of the initial leak was built over three days in June 2011, three months after the plant was devastated by the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami, but had to be disassembled and rebuilt after suffering subsidence.
A nuclear energy expert called in to advise the Japanese government on ways to handle the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima plant told The Telegraph that the situation is “a disaster waiting to happen.”
“There are many of us who knew that this situation with the water leakage was going to happen,” the man, who declined to be named, said. “Radioactive water in steel tanks is a disaster waiting to happen.
“Huge tanks of water sitting on uneven ground in an active seismic zone is trouble,” he added.
“If the tanks are half full and a big quake hits, there is going to be some tremendous oscillation – sloshing – inside the tank.
“If harmonic wave motion begins, there is going to be a catastrophe.”
In a statement issued on Monday, TEPCO expressed its regret at the latest problem to strike the plant.
“We deeply apologise for the great anxiety and inconvenience caused by the recent contaminated water issues at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, which affect residents near the power station and the broader society,” it said.
“We will investigate the cause of this issue, taking any appropriate countermeasures immediately, and continue to make every effort to secure the safety of workers.”