HIRONO, Japan Aug 23 The operator of Japan's
wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant was careless in monitoring tanks
storing dangerously radioactive water, the nuclear regulator
said on Friday, the latest development in a crisis no one seems
to know how to contain.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. also failed to keep
records of inspections of the tanks, Nuclear Regulation
Authority (NRA) Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters after
a visit to the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Fuketa visited the plant on Friday after NRA chairman
Shunichi Tanaka said this week he was concerned more of the
hastily built giant containers would fail.
"Fundamentally, for a facility holding that kind of
radioactive water, they did not take action that foresaw the
risks of possible leaks," Fuketa said.
"On top of that, and this is an impression I had before my
visit, I can't help but say that the inspections were careless."
Japan's nuclear crisis this week escalated to its worst
level since a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant
more than two years ago, with Tokyo Electric saying a tank
holding highly contaminated water leaked 300 tonnes of
It was the fifth and most serious breach of the same type of
tank, as the crisis goes from bad to worse, prompting
neighbouring China to express shock at the continuing leaks.
A tsunami crashed into the plant, north of Tokyo, on March
11, 2011, causing fuel-rod meltdowns at three reactors,
radioactive contamination of air, sea and food and triggering
the evacuation of 160,000 people.
It was the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in
1986. There are 350 tanks in place at Fukushima holding
radioactive water used to cool the fuel rods. The plant is fast
running out of space.
Tokyo Electric said on Thursday new spots of high radiation
had been found near the storage tanks, raising fear of fresh
Tokyo Electric, which has long had problems with
documentation, did not keep proper records of its tank
inspections and therefore missed problems, Fuketa said.