Japan is poised to declare a toxic water leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant a level 3 "serious incident," its gravest warning since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that sent three reactors into meltdown.
... Scientists have pointed to high radiation levels in the waters off the plant for more than a year as evidence of problems with the company's efforts to contain the water.
In July, TEPCO admitted that radioactive groundwater was leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the plant, even though an underground barrier was built to seal in the water, underscoring a growing sense of crisis at the site.
Last night I was chatting with a neighbor who is in the business of providing independent oversight of the Hanford cleanup (it wasn't an interview, so I'll leave him nameless for now), and he seemed quite distressed at what is going on at Fukushima. Things are so bad, he nervously laughed, that they've resorted to calling in "experts" from Hanford to advise TEPCO on the cleanup. You know Hanford, where our experts have so far spent tens of billions of dollars cleaning up nothing.
Worse, he says, TEPCO is preparing to manually remove 1,230 irradiated spent fuel rods from the open pools at the crippled facility. If they screw up just once, he suggested, and the fuel goes critical, we could end up with a nuclear disaster so big that it poisons the Northern Hemisphere.