February 2, 2012
TEPCO reported today that more than eight tons of radioactive water has leaked from the number four reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after a frozen pipe burst. The electric company said none of the water reached outside of the stricken reactor containment building.
TEPCO failed to winterize the reactor’s cooling system and this oversight led to fractures in pipes due to frozen water inside, according to reports.
“I wouldn’t say this is a positive development. But it isn’t something that would further stoke safety concerns over other nuclear plants,” Kenji Sumita, honorary professor at Osaka University, told Reuters. “If it hadn’t been for the Fukushima disaster, an incident like this could have gone unreported.”
Soon after the earthquake and tsunami that overwhelmed and damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant last year, a long history of covering up mismanagement, accidents, and disasters by TEPCO and its transnational business partner General Electric was revealed.
Most of the cover-ups involved safety violations related to earthquakes. In addition, TEPCO has repeatedly endangered the lives of employees. In 1999, a serious accident at Tokaimura exposed hundreds of people to radiation and resulted in the evacuation of thousands.
“Behind Japan’s escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses,” Public Intelligence wrote last March. “Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.”
In early January, it was reported by a number of sources that radiation from Fukushima has spread worldwide. 20,000 premature deaths in the United States have been attributed to the increased level of radiation, up from an estimated 14,000 in December. Meanwhile, a sudden rise in thyroid cancer has stumped the medical establishment.
In December, a report was released indicating that levels of radioactive cesium had reached 50 million times normal levels in the ocean water off the coast of the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility. Following the report, TEPCO finally admitted that the disaster was ongoing and alarming quantities of radioactive strontium have leaked into the ocean.
Considering TEPCO’s history of habitual lies and cover-ups, its latest claim that more than eight tons of radioactive water from the number four reactor is not a threat to public health should not be accepted at face value.