Tokyo, Oct 9: The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Wednesday said six of its workers had been exposed to leaking radioactive water after one of them mistakenly removed a pipe.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said that following one of its workers removing a pipe connected to a desalination treatment system for treating water to keep melted fuel cool, seven tonnes of radioactive water leaked from the pipe for around 50 minutes, Xinhua reported.
A spokesperson for the embattled utility said the highly-radioactive water was contained within barriers inside the Daiichi complex and its workers were undergoing treatment for radiation exposure.
According to TEPCO, the radioactive leak at the site, the latest in a series of leaks caused by human error, contained 34 million becquerels of beta ray-emitting material per liter.
The toxic leak Wednesday follows TEPCO admitting Monday that human error was also the cause of a pump cooling nuclear fuel being stopped.
An emergency alarm was sounded Monday morning at the nuclear complex indicating that a pump injecting water to cool nuclear fuel inside the No.1 turbine building had stopped functioning, due to a worker pressing a stop button on a switchboard by mistake.
In addition to the cooling of nuclear fuel being temporarily suspended, in two of the complex’s containment units, the decontamination of radioactive gases was also halted due to the error, TEPCO said.
TEPCO has also recently been lambasted by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and the government following revelations that workers at the Daiichi nuclear facility overfilled a storage tank to beyond its capacity, causing 430 litres of radioactive water to leak into the Pacific Ocean.
As the utility grapples to handle a series of leaks and contain massive amounts of contaminated water accumulating on a daily basis, it said separately Wednesday that the cause of 300 tons of radioactive water leaking into the ocean had been found.
TEPCO said that water leaked from one of its storage tanks in August due to corrosion at the bottom of one of the tanks causing gaps between steel plates.
It said it planned to replace the plates as soon as possible.