Problems continue to burble up at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant — or, in this case, gush out.
We learned last month that contaminated water has been leaking from the plant into the sea at a rate of about 300 tons a day. Then last week came word of a more serious spill of 300 tons of extremely radioactive water, which the government classified as a level 3 incident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
The scale runs from zero, where everything is peachy, past level 3, which indicates a “serious incident,” up to level 7, which means the kind of living hell that engulfed the facility when its reactors melted down following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The decision to issue the level 3 alert came two days after a Japanese government minister had compared the plant operator’s efforts to deal with worrying toxic water leaks at the site to a game of “whack-a-mole.”
Now the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to know why last week’s spill received an incident rating while other accidents at the site over the past two years — from a rat-induced cooling outage to seemingly endless radioactive spills — received none. The IAEA says Japan should avoid sending “confusing messages.”