Fukushima plant still leaking radioactive water

Despite efforts to control the situation, radioactive water is still leaking out of Fukushima’s nuclear power plant in Japan.

According to the BBC, the Japanese government said up to 300 tons of contaminated water per day might be leaking into the ocean. However, the exact amount is unclear. Some believe the water came from what was pumped into the reactors to cool them right after the tsunami.

Officials are now wary of leaving the disaster entirely in the hands of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Bloomberg reported. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will implement its own plan to address the escalating issue.

“It is an urgent problem,” Abe said. “We will not leave this to TEPCO, but put together a government strategy. We will direct TEPCO to make sure there is a swift and multi-faceted approach in place.”

Tom Murphy, a professor emeritus of chemistry at DePaul, said the recent leaks will not have a drastic effect on the environment. He used food coloring as an analogy to show how little of an impact the recent radioactivity will have on the already contaminated site.

“Consider taking a gallon of clean tap water and putting a drop of red food coloring into it,” Murphy said. “The water would now be colored, not deeply, but you could see some color. There was a noticeable change.

“Now take another gallon of clean tap water, and add a bottle of red food coloring to it. It will be deep red. Now add one more drop of food coloring. You won’t be able to see any difference, though it is the same amount you added to the clean water above.”

Murphy said the big implication is the fact that the plant is still leaking at all.

“It shouldn’t be leaking,” Murphy said. “Since it’s leaking, there’s things going on that they don’t understand.”

To combat the radioactive water, TEPCO plans to build an underground ice wall around the plant to prevent further pollution in the ocean. However, Murphy is skeptical of this method. He said it will keep the contamination around the plant and could possibly force the water inland.

But even if officials find a strategy that works, Murphy said there is still a lot of work to be done. He said he believes Japan will be feeling the effects of the 2011 tsunami for decades to come.

“Normal isn’t a word you use with that area,” Murphy said. “It will never be back.”