New Major Leak at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Worst incident since August at tsunami-hit Japanese power station

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The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Patrol workers check for any leak from the storage tanks containing radioactive water at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on January 29, 2014 in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan.

A tank at Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has leaked another 100 metric tons of highly contaminated water, the worst incident since August.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said Thursday that the water had overflowed late the previous day after a valve had mistakenly been left open.

“We are taking various measures, but we apologize for worrying the public with such a leak,” said Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for the utility. “Water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area.”

The leak, considered a level three, or “serious incident,” on the seven-point international scale for radiological releases, adds to criticism of the utility’s response to the three nuclear meltdowns that followed the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Last week, a nuclear regulatory official said Tepco had postponed the release of record-high measurements of highly radioactive strontium-90 in the groundwater, despite repeated requests.