Workers spotted two more questionable tanks during an inspection Thursday.
After his inspection Friday, Fuketa, the regulatory commissioner, said that the plant’s twice-daily leak-spotting patrols were “sloppy,” and that there were hardly any protective measures taken in anticipation of a potential tank leak.
“It’s like a haunted house, one thing happening after another,” said Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka, referring to the spate of problems at the plant. “But we must take any steps that would reduce risks to avoid a fatal accident.”
Leaks of highly contaminated water from the aboveground tanks aggravate the groundwater problem.
“Any contamination in the groundwater would eventually flow into the ocean. That is very difficult to stop even with barriers,” said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. He found that radioactive cesium levels in most fish caught off the Fukushima coast hadn’t declined in the year following the March 2011 disaster, suggesting that the contaminated water from the reactor-turbine areas is already leaking into the sea.
But TEPCO hasn’t provided the details he and other scientists need to further assess the situation.