Worker error causes Fukushima leak

Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has a new leak of radioactive water after workers overfilled a storage tank, its operator says.

The workers miscalculated the tank’s capacity as it was tilted on unlevel ground, plant operator Tepco said.

It said around 430 litres (100 gallons) of water may have leaked from the tank, and could have flowed into the sea.

The plant has experienced several leaks since being crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

One of the largest leaks took place in August, when Tepco discovered a leak of at least 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water at a different part of the plant.

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The latest leak was discovered by workers late on Wednesday.

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Previous Fukushima problems

21 Aug Japan’s nuclear agency upgrades Fukushima alert level
20 Aug Tepco says 300 tonnes of radioactive water has leaked from a storage tank into the ground
July Tepco for the first time admits radioactive water was going into the sea
June Tepco says radioactive water leaking from a storage tank to the ground
April Tepco suspects a fresh radioactive water leak at Fukushima
March Tepco suspects a rodent may have been behind a power cut that shut down cooling systems
Dec 2011 Contaminated water leaks from a treatment system, caused by a crack in the foundation
Tepco official Masayuki Ono said: “We would like to apologise that we have to announce that we’ve had another leak in our tanks today.”

“This is partly because we’ve had to fill our tanks to the brim in order to deal with the difficult management of rain water overflow following [a typhoon],” he added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Tepco had failed to deal with the leaks successfully.

“It’s actually leaking so of course we can’t say that [Tepco] have been properly dealing with the issue. It should not be leaking at all,” he said.

The 2011 disaster knocked out cooling systems to the nuclear plant’s reactors, three of which melted down.

Water is now being pumped in to cool the reactors, but storing the resultant large quantities of radioactive water has proved a challenge for Tepco.

In September, the government said it would invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a frozen wall around the plant to stop the leaks.