A CNN report is bound to get those Geiger counters ticking: the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has announced that a single drop of contaminated water escaped the holding tanks today, accounting for a massive spike in radiation levels.
TEPCO is unworried about the issue, and has pledged to "find out the cause of this issue and make proper counter measures immediately, and continue to make every effort to secure safety of workers." Reuters' version of the story has the storage tanks being built of steel plates held together by bolts, which were apparently the same kinds of tanks that permitted 300 tons of toxic waste water to leak last month.
The leaks were discovered while TEPCO was taking readings this past weekend in contaminated water storage tanks and in the pipes that connect the tanks. At the bottom fringe of one tank, 1800 mSv were measured, with the other two tanks measuring at 220 and 70 mSv.
Some media outlets have been reporting that the radiation levels were high enough to kill a human in four hours. A SkyNews report via Yahoo UK was among them, quoting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as saying that "The accident in Fukushima cannot be left entirely to Tokyo Electric Power. There is a need for the government to play a role with a sense of urgency, including taking measures to deal with the waste water."
TEPCO took offense at the media circus and the implication that they were unable to contain the radiation, arguing that the highest levels of radiation measured were actually beta radiation: "Since beta radiation is weak and can be blocked by a thin metal sheet such as aluminum, we think that we can control radiation exposure by using proper equipments and cloths," TEPCO said in addition to its statement.[Image via a Youtube video about the subject]