Japan Fukushima Leak Severity Level Upgraded

Japan Tsunami Dirty Cleanup

A worker walks past bags of radioactive waste at a temporary waste storage site in Naraha, just outside the exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan on March 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

(AP)  –  

TOKYO  — Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s latest criticism of Tokyo Electric Power Co. came a day after the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant acknowledged that the 300-ton (300,000-liter, 80,000-gallon) leak probably began nearly a month and a half before it was discovered Aug. 19.

In a meeting with agency officials Tuesday night, TEPCO said radioactivity near the leak and exposure levels among patrolling staff started to increase in early July. There is no sign that anyone tried to find the source of that radioactivity before the leak was discovered.

Continue reading