Would that this were a joke. Highly radioactive water is leaking into the sea at the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan. Workers there have tried to stop the flow with polymeric water absorbent, the stuff used in baby diapers, that can soak up 50 times its volume in liquid. At left, a snapshot of the material (photo: Kyodo News).
They're also using sawdust and shredded newspapers. But Japan's nuclear safety agency, NISA, says so far none of this is working. And the government's top spokesperson says it will likely take several months before radiation stops leaking from the plant.
Engineers put 8 kilograms of the polymeric water absorbent together with 60 kilograms of sawdust and three bags of shredded newspaper into pipes leading to a pit connected to the No. 2 reactor building where a 20-centimeter crack has been found to be leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, the agency said.
However, those materials injected at a point 23 meters away from the seaside pit have not been sucked into the water flow, leaving no impact on the rate of leakage, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the governmental Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Nishiyama said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will keep monitoring the situation until Monday morning to examine the effects of the water-absorbing mission. The firm will also try to trace the route of the radioactive water leakage from the pit by draining colored water on Monday, he added.