On July 22, one day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party won control of Japan’s upper house of Parliament, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed that contaminated groundwater from its Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was leaking into the Pacific Ocean.
The head of the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative, Hiroyuki Sato, complained to the local paper, Fukushima Minpo, “TEPCO is saying that the pollution will stay inside the harbor, but the harbor is connected to the ocean, and the tide flows in and out. You can’t say there won’t be any impact. We want them to take action immediately.” The National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations called the
More than two years after the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima plant is still in crisis. TEPCO still has no sufficient explanation for when the leaks began or why it waited until after the election to reveal them. Its assurances that the contamination is staying within the seawalls of the harbor are less convincing after weeks of assurances that there was no leak at all. The government has estimated that at least 300 tons of contaminated water are being released per day. TEPCO officials would not confirm the estimate.
This disclosure is only the latest in a series of well-documented problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant: a power outage, the release of radioactive steam and the limited space to store the contaminated water (320,000 tons to date, with plans to build more tanks to hold up to 700,000 tons of radioactive water by 2015).handling of the disclosure “a betrayal of the fishing industry and of the citizens of Japan.”