4 Juin 2015
June 4, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Japan’s nuclear watchdog had harsh words for Tokyo Electric Power Co. over its failure to implement a comprehensive strategy to plug leaks of contaminated water at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“(TEPCO) has failed to manage (contaminated water) properly,” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a regularly scheduled meeting on June 3. “It lacks a strategic approach in addressing the contaminated water issue.”
Tanaka's remarks followed the recent revelation that an estimated 7 to 15 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from a hose that was used to transfer contaminated water from storage tanks to a treatment facility. The leak was discovered on May 29.
The incident was just the latest in a spate of similar mishaps that have plagued the plant.
TEPCO announced on June 1 that the escaped water contained 1.1 million becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive materials per liter. The radioactive water apparently made its way to the sea through a ditch, according to the company.
The leak likely occurred because the condition of the hose had deteriorated. In the part where the water escaped, the hose was bent at a far sharper angle than is allowed under regulations, the company said.
TEPCO said it did not replace the hose with a more durable one even though it was aware of the potential danger that could result from aging. It had not checked the hose since installing it in October 2013.
Tanaka rebuked the utility for failing to replace it, saying, “(TEPCO) should be held deeply responsible.”
An official with the NRA who investigated the incident also revealed at the meeting that TEPCO had failed to notify the authorities before the leak that the tanks holding water that was scheduled for treatment included highly contaminated water.
The heavy contamination resulted from tons of groundwater making contact with melted nuclear fuel in the reactor buildings.