The New York Times reported today:
At least 45 tons of highly radioactive water has leaked from a purification facility at the Fukushima Daiichi buclear power stationnt, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator said on Sunday.
According to the Times:
The new radioactive water leak called into question the progress that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, appeared to have made in bringing its reactors under control. The company, known as Tepco, has said that it hopes to bring the plant to a stable state known as a cold shutdown by the end of the year.
The article provided these details of the incident:
The trouble on Sunday came in two stages, a Tepco statement said. In the morning, utility workers found that radioactive water was flooding a catchment next to a purification device; the device was then switched off, and the leak appeared to stop. But the company said it later discovered that leaked water was escaping through a crack in the catchment’s concrete wall and was reaching an external gutter.
Citing a Japanese newspaper article, the Times also reported:
In all, as much as 220 tons of water may now have leaked from the facility, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that cited Tepco officials.
The newspaper says the water may have contained up to one million times as much radioactive strontium as the maximum safe level set by the government, and about 300 times as much radioactive cesium. Both are readily absorbed by living tissue and can greatly increase the risk of developing cancer.
And the Times had more bad news about the total amount of radioactivity that Fukushima has released to the ocean:
The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety in France estimates that between March and mid-July, the amount of radioactive cesium 137 that had leaked into the Pacific from the Fukushima Daiichi plant amounted to 27.1 petabecquerels, the greatest amount known to have been released from a single episode. (A becquerel is a frequently used measure of radiation, and a petabecquerel is a million billion becquerels.)