Fukushima radioactive water issue ‘embarrassing’

Fukushima radioactive water issue ‘embarrassing’

The manager of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has described as embarrassing the failure of repeated efforts to bring under control the problem of radioactive water at the plant.

“It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant this week.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), has been struggling to handle the contaminated water problem since Fukushima was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, which inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor plant. The cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material.

Ono further said that a huge part of the problems in the plant stems from TEPCO’s focus on speed since the disaster.

“It may sound odd, but this is the bill we have to pay for what we have done in the past three years,” he said, adding that they were pressed to construct tanks “in a rush and may have not paid enough attention to quality. We need to improve quality from here.”

The comments came after TEPCO said last week that over 200 tons of highly radioactive water had been channeled to the wrong building, flooding its basement. The company is also probing a leak into the ground a few days earlier from a plastic container used to store rainwater.

A tank sprouted a 100-ton leak of radioactive water In February.

TEPCO had promised to have treated all contaminated water by March 2015, but it said this week that is a “tough goal.”

The 1,000 tanks keep 440,000 tons of contaminated water at the plant. About 4,500 to 5,000 workers, some 1,500 more than a half year ago, are striving to double the capacity by 2016.

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