International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano on Monday characterized the leak of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant as “a matter of high priority that needs to be addressed urgently.”
Amano pledged to send a team to Japan this autumn to deal with the increasingly worrisome problem.
Meanwhile, plant operator TEPCO announced samples taken from a well near the site tested positive for the presence of radioactive substances, including strontium.
Reports produced by TEPCO admit radioactive water from leaking storage tanks has contaminated ground water and reached the sea. The level of radiation at the well was measured at 3,200 becquerels per liter. The company announced last week it had discovered 650 becquerels per liter of radioactive waste in a well located approximately 20 meters south of the leaking storage tank.
Last week the Japanese government said it plans to build by 2015 a wall of ice under the plant to stop drainage of contaminated water. In the meantime, it plans to pump radioactive water from the tanks to prevent it from reaching the Pacific Ocean.
The plan calls for burying refrigeration pipes a 100 feet underground for nearly a mile around the radioactive site to prevent water from escaping. Ice-barrier technology was used at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to contain radioactive waste water. The Fukushima ice-barrier project, however, is 150 larger than the one at Oak Ridge.
The energy requirement would be equivalent to the electricity used by thousands of households.