By Diane Alter

Fukushima, Japan

Workers at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility plant have discovered a leak of 45 metric tons of contaminated, radioactive water, according to a statement from operator Tokyo Electric Power Company.

It is not yet clear if the contaminated water reached the Pacific Ocean.

The water was discovered Sunday morning inside a barrier around an evaporated condensation apparatus, which is used to purify sea water used at the plant to cool reactors damaged in the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged the area in March.

TEPCO said it stopped the leak by stacking sandbags around a crack found in a concrete barrier around the condensation unit.

TEPCO said the sea water around the drain had a slightly higher level of cesium 137, a radioactive substance, than usual. The company is working to determine how much contaminated water may have reached the ocean.

The March earthquake and tsunami killed more than 150,000 people in Japan and caused extensive damage. The country was on alert for weeks as utility and government workers rushed to prevent a worsening nuclear disaster at the Dai-ichi plant, located about 150 miles north of Tokyo.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency placed the accident at a level-7 event, which is the highest level on an international scale for nuclear energy. It also put it on par with the 1996 Chernobyl disaster.


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Radioactive Water Leaks at Japanese Nuclear Plant | Global Viewpoint