4 Apr 2011

Japan to dump radioactive water into Pacific

9:05 pm on 4 April 2011

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear plant plans to dump 11,500 tonnes of radioactive water at sea to free up storage space for more highly contaminated water.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant has been leaking radioactive particles since a 9.0 earthquake triggered a fatal tsunami that devastated much of northeast Japan on 11 March.

The government's spokesperson, Yukio Edano, says they have no choice but to release water tainted with radioactive materials from the plant into the Pacific Ocean as a safety measure, AFP reports.

A spokesperson for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the plant, says the water is only weakly radioactive.

Engineers are struggling to stop the leak in a reactor wall, which the government has warned could take months.

Pools of contaminated water within the nuclear plant are hampering efforts to stabilise the plant's six reactors.

Meanwhile, the bodies of two men killed by the tsunami have been recovered from the turbine building of the plant's No 4 reactor.

Their remains were found last week, but had to be decontaminated before they could be returned to the families.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the area around Fukushima on Saturday, his first ground visit to the disaster zone.