HIROKO TABUCHI and KEN BELSON
April 2, 2011
TOKYO — Highly radioactive water is leaking directly into the sea from a damaged pit near a crippled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, safety officials said Saturday.
Japan’s nuclear regulator said that workers discovered a crack about eight inches wide in the pit, which lies between the No. 2 Reactor and the sea and holds cables used to power seawater pumps.
The operator of the plant said that air directly above the water leaking into the sea had a radiation reading of more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. Although higher levels of radiation have been detected in the ocean waters near the plant, the leak discovered Saturday is the first identified direct leak of such high levels of radiation into the sea. Earlier Saturday, Mr. Nishiyama had said that above-normal levels of radioactive materials were detected about 25 miles south of the Fukushima plant, much further than had previously been reported.
The pit was filled with four to eight inches of contaminated water, said the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company. It was unclear where that water was coming from. Highly radioactive water has also been discovered in the reactor’s turbine building in the past week.
Workers will try to patch up the crack with concrete, the company said.
This article was posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 1:40 am