TOKYO — The operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear plant said Saturday that deteriorated seams and a possible contortion of a reassembled storage tank might have caused a massive contaminated water leak that has triggered fears over the plant’s radioactive water management.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that after the foundation of the tank, which was storing radioactive water, partially collapsed two years ago, it was moved and reassembled. A 300-ton water leak from the tank was discovered Monday.
The massive leak was the fifth and worst from a Fukushima Dai-ichi tank since the plant suffered triple meltdowns after the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011. All five of the plant’s tanks are collapsible and are seamed with rubber seals.
TEPCO spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi said the tank passed a water-tightness test and other safety requirements after being reassembled. The leak might have started when rubber seals degenerated, failing to cushion the tank’s possible contortion, he said, adding that the company was further investigating the cause.
Nuclear regulatory officials have raised concerns over a design flaw of the rubber seam tanks and urged a switch to more durable welded-seam tanks.
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