The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Thursday detailed a new leak of radioactive water as Greenpeace slammed the country’s "inadequate response" to a growing threat to sea water and health.
And in an embarrassing reversal, Tokyo Electric Power officials changed a key element of an account of the early response to the crisis it had given on Saturday as part of a government investigation into the accident.
Japanese tsunami battering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, March 11, 2011.
Tokyo Electric said up to 57 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked from a storage facility into a trench. It vowed to step up monitoring of groundwater.
The disclosure raises the stakes in a race to complete by next month a system to decontaminate a massive pool of radioactive water at the site that critics see as a growing risk to both the Pacific and groundwater.
In early April, the utility dumped about 10,000 tonnes of radioactive water into the ocean, prompting criticism from neighbors China and South Korea.
Environmental group Greenpeace said seaweed had been found with radiation levels 60 times higher than official limits, raising concerns about risks from contaminated sea water more than two months after the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.
"Our data show that significant amounts of contamination continue to spread over great distances from the Fukushima nuclear plant," a statement quoted Greenpeace radiation expert Jan Vande Putte as saying.
One seaweed sample showed readings over 60 times above the limits set by the government.
"The concentration of radioactive iodine we found in seaweed is particularly concerning, as it tells us how far contamination is spreading along the coast, and because several species of seaweed are widely eaten in Japan," Vande Putte said.
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11 and the massive tsunami that followed killed about 24,000 people and knocked out power to the Fukushima plant, triggering the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
The crisis has displaced some 80,000 residents from around the plant and prompted a review of Japan’s energy policy, with the government "starting from scratch" on nuclear policy.
The effort to regain control of the Fukushima plant relies on pumping massive quantities of water to cool the three reactors that suffered meltdowns.
NEW LEAK, RENEWED CRITICISM
A poll by the Asahi newspaper published on Thursday showed 42 percent of Japanese people opposed nuclear power, up from 18 percent before the disaster.
The survey underscored deepening concerns about nuclear safety and criticism of the halting response to the crisis and incomplete disclosure by government officials and the utility.
Tokyo Electric officials said on Thursday that the Fukushima plant’s chief officer had ignored an order to stop injecting sea water into the No. 1 reactor. Experts said his decision was the correct one.
Officials said earlier that an adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan had raised concern about the injection a day after the quake prompting Tokyo Electric to halt pumping in sea water.
The revised account was triggered in part by the visit of a U.N. nuclear safety team to prepare a report on Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Vice President Sakae Muto said.
Even before Greenpeace’s outburst, Kan’s government has been under fire for its response to the disaster and a leading opposition figure said Thursday’s revelation would not help.
"I don’t see how Japan can recover international trust," said Sadakazu Tanigaki, head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, who now plans a no-confidence motion against Kan’s Cabinet.
People forced to evacuate from the town of Namie near the Fukushima plant were allowed back to their homes for a short visit on Thursday.
As residents in protective white suits laid flowers for the dead on a long table at a roadside in the abandoned town, a Buddhist monk wearing a stole over his suit recited a sutra.
"It was like being at a different place," one man told TV Tokyo.
"Perhaps I could have grieved more if something was left standing. But it was like being in a strange place."
Chess-playing computers may cause the robot apocalypse 2014 04 23
Sore-loser chess programs might be the end of us all...
In the movie The Terminator, we heard the human side of the story of Judgment Day, with the machines getting smart and seeing us as a threat. It wasn’t until the sequel that we heard the tale from the machine’s point of view, as it chose to start World War III ...
Archeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought 2014 04 23
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now.
Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year ...
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe 2014 04 23
A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied.
"I can’t speak for other MPs, but I’ve had many, many calls over the past eight years about chemtrails. And these questions are not so easy to answer," ...
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound 2014 04 23 If it quacks like a duck... it’s not always a duck.
Scientists have reportedly gotten to the bottom of the mysterious ’Bio-Duck’ sound in the Antarctic.
Here’s a recording of the strange sound (it’s kind of a stretch to say it sounds like a duck, but who are we to second guess the biologists?).
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved
By Tanya Lewis ...
’Extreme’ Carbon Dioxide Reduction will be a Death Sentence for Humanity & Planet Earth 2014 04 23 If we allow a fraudulent pseudo-environmentalist cult to control every aspect of our lives then our children are doomed to a totalitarian existence which Stalin could only have dreamed of.
“The common enemy of humanity is man.
In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine ...