The Japanese utility battling to bring its radiation-spewing nuclear reactor under control said today that 1,500 more tons of radioactive water are being moved into temporary storage — the latest attempt to prevent a massive spill of contaminated water into the environment.
More than 100,000 tons of radioactive water have pooled beneath Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Three reactor cores melted after the March 11 tsunami destroyed backup generators, damaging critical cooling systems.
The pooled radioactive water at the plant could start overflowing as soon as June 20 — or possibly sooner with heavy rainfall.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs Fukushima Dai-ichi, also acknowledged it had made 1,000 errors in data submitted to the government to decide on power consumption goals for corporate customers.
The wrong data are the latest embarrassment for the fumbling utility, which has been criticized as lacking in transparency in responding to the nuclear crisis. TEPCO has repeatedly given wrong errors on radiation data. Officials had also insisted some of the fuel core was intact but acknowledged last month that the fuel rods had just about completely melted.
Japan faces a power crunch in the peak electricity-demand months of July, August and September, because of problems at Fukushima Dai-ichi, and the government has shut down another nuclear power plant, Hamaoka, for safety concerns.
Companies and consumers alike are under pressure to conserve energy. Automakers are producing vehicles on weekends while taking Thursday and Friday off, dark-suited "salaryman" workers are encouraged to wear Aloha shirts, and electric fans are quickly becoming hot-sellers as air conditioners get turned off.
In a June 3 letter to TEPCO President Masakata Shimizu, Tetsuhiro Hosono, who heads the government's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, demanded that correct information be submitted by Monday, with a plan to prevent a recurrence of the errors.
"The responsibility lies extremely heavy with your company for creating great confusion," said the letter, a copy of which was on the ministry website.