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Radioactive water leaks at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant are much worse than the authorities have previously stated, the BBC reported. The incident level has now been raised by Japanese authorities from one to three on the international scale that measure the severity of atomic accidents.
Tokyo Electric Power Co, Tepco, the utility that manages Fukushima, is still struggling with containing the contaminated water, now leaking out from tank No.5 all over the site.
The leak was initially discovered on Monday when, at around 9:50 a.m., a Tepco worker on patrol discovered a pool of more than 100 litres of highly contaminated water thought to have escaped from a concrete barrier’s drain valve.
Tepco workers have now placed a sandbag barrier around the leak but it has proved ineffective in containing the water, RT reported.
Workers pumped out the remaining water from the troubled tank and continue to remove water-soaked soil from around the tanks.
According to reports, Tepco admitted they cannot rule out the possibility that some of the contaminated water has already flowed into the Pacific.
The radiation level measured 50 centimetres above the toxic water stands at about 100 millisieverts per hour.
According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, exposure to 100 millisieverts increases the incidence of death by cancer by 0.5 percent, the Japan Times reported.
Among 1,000 tanks built by Tepco to hold highly contaminated coolant water at Fukushima, 350 are temporary.
Similar leaks have occured since 2012, but not on this scale, a Tepco official said.
News of this latest leak comes after Tepco admitted that up to 300 tonnes of contaminated water from the site was seeping into the sea every day.
According to reports, water samples recently taken at an underground passage below the Fukushima nuclear plant showed extreme levels of radiation comparable to those taken immediately after the March 2011 catastrophe.
Tepco workers are now carrying out checks on hundreds of other tanks storing highly radioactive water to verify if there are other leaks.