A technical malfunction redirected some 240 tons of radioactive groundwater at a Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan being released into the wrong place. The basements of buildings located on the site have been flooded even though they were not intended to be used.
Initially, on April 10, workers at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) noticed that water levels in buildings that should have been pumping water out were actually rising.
Two days later, they discovered that four pumps that were not intended to be used at the time were actually operating. They were shut down on April 13 but, by that time, the contaminated water had flooded the basements.
“Those pumps are normally used to reverse the flow of water or to send the water to other destinations when problems arise in pumping the water to the original destination,” the Asahi Shimbun reported.
“Regardless of what kind of building you may be talking about, it’s important to always make sure that your basement is properly sealed, and that water will be properly channeled in the event of a flood,” explains Andrew, owner of Aqua Tech Waterproofing.
In a separate incident on the same day, the company reported a leak of nearly a ton of contaminated water from a damaged storage tank.
TEPCO told Kyoto News that the water had particularly high levels of radionuclides. The number reached 37 million becquerels per liter of accumulated Cesium but the safe limit is only 25 becquerels or less.
The public expressed concerns about the water reaching the ocean, drinking sources, or even other homes, but TEPCO said that it has no means to do so. Evidently, the basements were built for storage of contaminated overflow, but they were not meant to be used at the time. However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has instructed the company to keep a close eye on the situation and clean it up as soon as possible.
“Regardless of what kind of building you may be talking about, it’s important to always make sure that you’re basement is properly sealed, and that water will be properly channeled in the event of a flood,” explains Andrew, owner of Aqua Tech Waterproofing.
TEPCO has been criticized for poor management in the past, even in the wake of destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. This kind of malfunction is not necessarily the result of that tragedy, and it will be interesting to see who catches the most blame.