Dangerous water leak at Japan plant fixed

Updated: 2011-04-07 08:01

(China Daily)

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Dangerous water leak at Japan plant fixed

Japanese personnel stand on a barge carrying pure water as it is towed near Fukushima Prefecture on Monday. Handout / Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force via Reuters

Radioactive spill has seriously damaged marine environment

Tokyo - Japan stopped highly radioactive water leaking into the sea on Wednesday from a crippled nuclear plant and acknowledged it could have given more information to neighboring countries about contamination in the ocean.

Despite the breakthrough in plugging the leak at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, engineers need to pump 11.5 million liters of contaminated water back into the ocean because they have run out of storage space at the facility. The water was used to cool overheated fuel rods.

Nuclear experts said the damaged reactors were far from being under control almost a month after they were hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it had stemmed the leak using a mixture of liquid glass and a hardening agent at one of the plant's six reactors.

Engineers had been struggling to stop leaks from reactor No 2, even using sawdust and newspapers, but the progress was quite slow.

The leak has apparently seriously contaminated the marine environment. According to Kyodo News, sand lance as the first case of tainted seafood with levels of cesium higher than the acceptable limit was discovered on Tuesday in the sea near the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture. As a result, 96 percent of fishing operations off the coast of Japan's fifth largest seafood manufacturer was suspended.

Japan's neighboring countries are getting concerned about the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 since the radioactive water has being pumped into the sea.

The South Korean government on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of accusing Japan of violating international laws for releasing water tainted with radiation from its earthquake-damaged nuclear plant, local media reported.

And India on Tuesday announced a three-month ban on imports of processed foods, fruits and vegetables from Japan, becoming the first country to introduce a blanket ban.

In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference on Wednesday: "We are instructing the trade and foreign ministries to work better together so that detailed explanations are supplied especially to neighboring countries."

Experts insisted the low-level radioactive water pumped into the ocean posed no health hazard to people because it will be diluted with the huge body of seawater.

China Daily-Reuters-Xinhua



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