The operator of the wrecked Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant has admitted for the first time that contaminated water keeps leaking into the sea.
Contrary to previous statements, Tepco’s general manager Masayuki Ono, speaking during a broadcast on Japan’s public television NHK, admitted the leakage is most probably taking place.
"We would like to offer our deep apology for causing grave worries for many people, especially for people in Fukushima," he said.
The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority had already confirmed the suspicion earlier this month, saying contaminated water must have been flowing into the sea since the earthquake two years ago.
Tepco said that according to water sampling carried out by the company, the leakage seemed to be contained by silt fences erected near the devastated reactors.
The utility is already injecting the chemical sodium silicate into part of the seawall separating the ocean from the plant site to prevent ground water from seeping through. It said it now intended to solidify a larger part of the seawall with the chemical.
Earlier this month, Tepco acknowledged that levels of radiation in groundwater had soared; suggesting highly toxic materials from the plant were getting closer to the Pacific ocean.
Tepco, made the announcement just one day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner scored a decisive victory in elections to the upper house.
The catastrophic March 2011 earthquake knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The situation resulted in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 explosion in Chernobyl after fuel in the damaged power plant started melting down; causing radiation leakages that forced thousands of people to flee the region.