Japan Says Radiation Leaks Could Last Months at Fukushima Plant

With radioactivity levels in the ocean more than 4,385 times above regulatory limit, engineers had hoped that chemicals, sawdust and shredded newspaper would stop or at least slow highly radioactive water pouring into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. However, those materials don’t seem to be working. According to Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency [NISA], the mixture injected at a point 23 meters away from the seaside pit “have not been sucked into the water flow, leaving no impact on the rate of leakage.”

[via Kyodo News Agency]: Workers tried Sunday to block the leakage of highly radioactive water into the sea from the nuclear plant by injecting polymeric water absorbent that can soak up 50 times its volume, but the water flow remains unaffected [NISA said].

Engineers put 8 kilograms of the polymeric water absorbent together with 60 kilograms of sawdust and three bags of shredded newspaper into pipes leading to a pit connected to the No. 2 reactor building where a 20-centimeter crack has been found to be leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, the agency said.

The Fukushima Daichi plant has been leaking radioactivity since the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami hit Japan’s northeastern coast killing thousands of people and knocking out key cooling systems that kept the plant’s reactors from overheating.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference on Sunday that it will be several months before the radiation stops leaking from the plant and permanent cooling systems are restored, suggesting a lengthy battle ahead to resolve the crisis. Even after that happens, it will take years of clean up work around the nuke power complex and figure out what to do with it.

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