The crashed atomic power plant has suffered a leak of radioactive water in its contaminated liquid filtration system, part of which went underground, according to the operator, which for the moment has not detected any “external impact” of the spill.

The incident occurred last Wednesday due to a valve that remained open incorrectly during a contaminated water transfer operation carried out by plant workers as part of an inspection, according to the electricity company in a statement. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO).

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TEPCO estimates that up to 5.5 tons of water could have been poured inside the plant premises. Fukushima Daiichi, and calculates that the liquid could contain up to 220 times the maximum level of radioactive materials such as cesium-137 set by the Japanese authorities.

The operator has cordoned off the incident area and has proceeded to collect the spilled liquid, although it is believed that part of it has gone underground, which will also be removed and analyzed.

TEPCO explained that at the moment “no environmental impact has been detected” outside the plant as a result of the incident, which occurred within the purification and channeling system of the plant’s contaminated water for discharge into the sea in a controlled manner.

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The plant damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 began last August to discharge into the Pacific the large quantities of processed water that are generated and stored in its facilities, a measure that is being supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

This water is treated through a complex filtering system that eliminates most of the harmful radioactive elements, except tritium (a nuclear isotope present in nature), before being stored in tanks for disposal.

There are currently more than 1,000 tanks on the plant grounds and its dumping, which has sparked strong protests from neighboring China and the Japanese fishing sector, is expected to continue for at least 30 years.

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