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TEPCO says, right now, we have an emergency.

Well, not trying to seem like an alarmist but:

“Reuters is reporting an unfolding emergency at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, has told Reuters that highly radioactive groundwater has breached an underground barrier and is rising towards the surface. The contamination is said to exceed the legal limits of radioactive discharge.

“Right now, we have an emergency,” he said.

Kinjo stated that countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) are a temporary solution and that TEPCO’s “sense of crisis is weak.” He added, “This is why you can’t just leave it up to TEPCO alone” to deal with the ongoing crisis.

Tepco is trying to prevent groundwater from reaching the plant by building a “bypass” but recent spikes of radioactive elements in sea water has prompted the utility to reverse months of denials and finally admit that tainted water is reaching the sea.

In a bid to prevent more leaks into the bay of the Pacific Ocean, plant workers created the underground barrier by injecting chemicals to harden the ground along the shoreline of the No. 1 reactor building. But that barrier is only effective in solidifying the ground at least 1.8 meters below the surface.

By breaching the barrier, the water can seep through the shallow areas of earth into the nearby sea. More seriously, it is rising toward the surface – a break of which would accelerate the outflow.

“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” said Masashi Goto, a retired Toshiba Corp nuclear engineer who worked on several Tepco plants. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”

Contaminated water could rise to the ground’s surface within three weeks, the Asahi Shimbun said on Saturday. Kinjo said the three-week timeline was not based on NRA’s calculations but acknowledged that if the water reaches the surface, “it would flow extremely fast.”

Click here to see the BBC video.

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