Japan's industry minister ordered on Monday (August 26) the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant to improve its monitoring and replace tanks at risk of leaking radioactive water, as he signalled the government may dip into emergency reserve funds.
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said Japan may tap foreign expertise if necessary to combat contaminated water at the site, which continues to increase at a rate of 400 tonnes a day and is threatening to overwhelm clean up efforts.
Tepco acknowledged last week that hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a tank, one of around 350 assembled quickly after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered nuclear meltdowns at the site.
The tanks are used to store water pumped through the reactors to keep fuel in the melted cores from overheating.
Motegi also said Tepco should have more frequent patrols around the tanks and improve its documentation of inspections. He also said the utility should replace weaker bolted tanks with sturdier welded storage units.
Officials from the ministry will be stationed in Fukushima to oversee the project and a separate taskforce in charge of the cleanup will be formed in the ministry. Tepco said it was setting up its own group of experts.
Presented by Adam Justice