Radiation soars as Japan suffers more failure

Another
attempt by Japanese officials to stop the leaking of highly radioactive water
from a nuclear reactor into the ocean has failed, the country’s Nuclear and
Industrial Safety Agency said.

A
silica-based polymer dubbed “liquid glass” was pumped into the
leaking shaft from below at reactor No. 2 of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
power plant.

 Workers hoped that the substance would harden
and fill gaps beneath the concrete that was poured into the shaft in a previous
unsuccessful attempt, but the material did not set as hoped, NISA reported.

It
was the latest of a series of setbacks Japanese authorities faced, with the
detection of radiation in a fish and news that water gushing from the nuclear
plant into the Pacific had radiation levels more than 5 million times above the
regulatory limit.

Underlining the concern over
spreading radiation, the government said it was imposing radioactivity restrictions
on seafood for the first time in the crisis after contaminated fish were found
in seas well south of the damaged nuclear reactors.

The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric
Power Co (TEPCO) offered token “condolence” money to those affected
in the Fukushima region where the plant is based, but the local mayors who came
to Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan made clear they expected far more
help.

“We have borne the risks,
co-existed and flourished with TEPCO for more than 40 years, and all these
years, we have fully trusted the myth that nuclear plants are absolutely
safe,” said Katsuya Endo, the mayor of Tomioka town.

He was one of eight Fukushima
prefecture mayors who went to Kan to demand compensation and support for
employment, housing and education for the tens of thousands of people evacuated
as a result of the radiation crisis.

Engineers also still don’t know
where the leak is located.

TEPCO said it suspected that a
stone layer beneath the trench feeding into the pit at reactor No. 2 might be
the source of the contaminated water, but added they were still investigating
the exact causes and were prepared for the possibility that there were other
sources of radioactive water

There is a total of 60,000 tons of
highly contaminated water in the plant after workers frantically poured in
seawater when fuel rods experienced partial meltdown after the tsunami hit
northeast Japan on 11 March.

TEPCO started releasing 11,500 tons
of low-level radioactive seawater Monday, after it ran out of storage capacity
for more highly contaminated water.

The release will continue until
Friday.

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