Leak plugged at Fukushima, but radioactive water surplus remains | World | Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 06.04.2011

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Leak plugged at Fukushima, but radioactive water surplus remains

A stream of radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean from Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has been repaired. But the danger is far from over, as several thousand tons of contaminated water remain.

Fukushima on the coast of the Pacific

Radioactive water has reached the Pacific

Workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan managed to stop a leak in a reactor that saw highly radioactive water streaming into the Pacific Ocean.

A compound known as liquid glass proved to be successful in stopping the leak, after several other methods - including pouring in concrete - failed.

Despite stopping the water from flowing unchecked into the ocean, an operation to deliberately release a separate store of low-level contaminated water into the ocean continued. This is to make room for water with higher contamination levels to be stored on site.

Monitoring seafood

The flow of radioactive water into the Pacific prompted Japanese officials to enact the first-ever radiation limits on seafood. On Wednesday, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said fishermen whose catch had been affected by radiation should receive compensation.

Fishermen on a dock in front of a boat

Fishermen are worried about contaminated seafood

Meanwhile concerns are growing that a build-up of hydrogen gas inside a containment vessel of one of the plant's reactors could trigger another explosion.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), may start pumping nitrogen gas into the containment chamber to reduce the chance of an explosion.

A 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone on land has been extended to the sea, prohibiting fishing in the area.

The problems at Fukushima stem from a March 11 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast that has so far claimed 11,000 lives and left 15,000 missing.

Author: Matt Zuvela (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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