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Tepco Says More Water May Escape Fukushima as Smaller Leak Found

Tepco Says More Water May Escape Fukushima as Smaller Leak Found
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) employees, wearing protective suits and masks, are seen near tanks of radiation-contaminated water at the company's Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture on March 6, 2013. Photographer: Issei Kato/Pool via Bloomberg

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 47 tons (12,500 gallons) more water may escape a storage pool at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant through a leak that has been followed by another, smaller release of toxic water at a nearby tank.

Yesterday, the company known as Tepco, estimated about 120 tons of radioactive water had already escaped the No. 2 underground pool. As much as 3 liters (0.79 gallons) of radioactive water may have also escaped the No. 3 pool, Koji Sakakibara, a Tokyo-based spokesman at the utility, said today.

The leaks have been found in the pools where highly contaminated water is stored after being used to cool the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The leaks are the latest stumble in efforts to stabilize the plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority yesterday identified the possibility of the second leak. Tepco plans to transfer some of the contaminated water from the No. 3 tank to determine whether the leak stops, Sakakibara said.

Tepco has built almost 1,000 tanks to hold water tainted in the process of cooling the reactors. The utility has had several radioactive water leaks from the Fukushima plant, raising concerns about radiation effects on health and the environment.

Tepco found the first leak from the No. 2 underground pool on the night of April 5, it said in a report the next day. The utility estimates it will complete transferring the remaining water stored in the No. 2 tank to other underground pools by April 11, Tepco’s Sakakibara said.

About 276,000 tons of highly radioactive water is stored in tanks at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, according to Tepco’s latest data. That’s enough to fill about 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

Tepco shares were down 0.7 percent at 294 yen as of 10:46 a.m. local time on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average was up 2.5 percent.

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