New Leak Found at Fukushima

Radioactive water may have already leaked into Pacific
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2011 12:22 AM CST
Updated Dec 5, 2011 5:49 AM CST
New Leak Found at Fukushima
An official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. uses a plastic covered megaphone to speak to fellow orkers as they drive toward the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in Okuma earlier this month.   (Getty Images)

A significant new leak of highly radioactive water has been discovered at Japan's crippled Fukushima power plant, and has possibly already oozed radiation into the Pacific Ocean. Some 12,000 gallons of contaminated water were discovered yesterday morning around a condensation unit of a water purification system, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Almost all of the water is still inside the unit, but some may have reached the sea, reports the Wall Street Journal. "The source of the beta radiation in the water is likely to include strontium 90, which if absorbed in the body through eating tainted seaweed or fish, accumulates in bone and can cause cancer,” the head of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute told Businessweek.

The news revealed the continuing struggle of Tokyo Electric to repair and contain the damage at Fukushima. Since the March earthquake that crippled the nuclear power complex, several smaller leaks have spewed radiated water into the sea. A French nuclear institute has said the plant is responsible for the largest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history. (More Fukushima Daiichi stories.)

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