TEPCO workers were using a polymer mixed with shredded paper and sawdust to try to close off pipes through which the water has flowed into a cracked concrete pit at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, from where it has run into the sea. An earlier attempt to seal the crack with cement failed to stop the leak.
“From the afternoon, the workers began pouring polymeric powder, sawdust, newspaper – things we could think of to clog up the holes,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency.
“So far, there has not been any clear indication that the volume of leaking water has been reduced.”
Officials attempted attempting to seal the recently discovered crack located in a concrete pit near Reactor Two. It followed failed attempts to use concrete to close the crack, which is believed to have led to radiation leakage into run-off water that then flows into the sea. The latest samples of contaminated seawater show radiation levels at 4,000 times the legal level.
There was no difference in the amount of water running out after they poured cement into the pit,” said a nuclear safety agency official. “Tepco needs to take steps to stop the leak once and for all.”
Surviving staff at Fukushima are working the clock in a bid to regain control over the four severely damaged reactors at the six-unit plant. Radiation has been leaking since reactor cooling systems at the plant were knocked out by the tsunami, resulting in a series of partial meltdowns and explosions.
Authorities have emphasised that there is no public health risk in terms of seafood contamination due to a fishing ban within a 12 mile radius of the plant.
Scientists also confirmed that ocean currents will swiftly dilute the radioactive iodine-131, eliminating risks to human health and the environment.
The nuclear crisis continued to cast a grim shadow over the widespread destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami, which left 12,009 people dead and 15,427 missing, according to the latest figures.
There were growing fears that a large quantity of bodies may never be recovered: only 167 additional bodies were reported to have been found so far during a major search of coastal and inland areas launched on Friday by the Japanese and United States military.
Two workers were named as the first official deaths at the plant yesterday, three weeks after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Kazuhiko Kokubo, 24, and Yoshiki Terashima, 21, died at the plant in northeastern Japan while conducting regular checks of a reactor. The suffered multiple injuries.
The bodies were discovered last week although they were forced to undergo decontamination as a result of leaking radiation before they could be returned to their families.
“It pains me that these two young workers were trying to protect the power plant while being hit by the earthquake and tsunami,” Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the plant, said.
On Sunday it appeared there was no immediate end in sight to the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster in 1986. A safety agency spokesman said it could take several more months to bring the plant under control, adding: “We’ll face a crucial turning point within the next few months, but that is not the end.”
[via The Telegraph (UK)]