Via the New York Times, a reminder to always take officials with a grain of salt when they issue statements denying that the oceans and air are being poisoned:
The stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima has probably been leaking contaminated water into the ocean for two years, ever since an earthquake and tsunami badly damaged the plant, Japan’s chief nuclear regulator said on Wednesday.
In unusually candid comments, Shunichi Tanaka, the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, also said that neither his staff nor the plant’s operator knew exactly where the leaks were coming from, or how to stop them.
The operator, Tokyo Electric Power, has reported spikes in the amounts of radioactive cesium, tritium and strontium detected in groundwater at the plant, adding urgency to the task of sealing any leaks. Radioactive cesium and strontium, especially, are known to raise risks of cancer in humans.
Until recently, Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, flatly denied that any of that water was leaking into the ocean, even though various independent studies of radiation levels in the nearby ocean have suggested otherwise.
“Considering the state of the plant, it’s difficult to find a solution today or tomorrow,” Mr. Tanaka said. “That’s the reality we face after an accident like this.”