Water samples taken at an underground passage below the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contain alarming levels of radiation which are comparable to those taken immediately after the catastrophe.
According to a Saturday statement by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the tested water contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter, and the radioactive water is now seeping into the sea. The findings were also evident from samples taken within a 50-meter radius around the plant.
TEPCO's specialists have hit a wall trying to solve the problem of the leaking groundwater, which has persisted since 2011. However, unlike then, they cannot tell what the source of the newfound radioactivity is. The current explanation is that the radioactive water that had been left in the underground trench some two years ago is now mixing with the groundwater, which is in turn contaminating the sea.
The current investigation started back in May, when specialists registered a 17-fold hike in radiation levels compared to December 2012. More tests immediately followed.
In July, scientists found high tritium levels -- 20 percent higher than just two months before. At the beginning of the month, cesium levels also went up by an astonishing 22 percent from the previous day. The legal limit of 90 becquerels per liter was exceeded by around 22,000 becquerels.
On July 10, scientists warned about possible sea contamination, although they had no evidence at the time.
On Monday, however, TEPCO discovered that radiation levels were rising and falling together with the tide. This has led them to their latest theory -- that the leftover trench water from 2011 is indeed mixing with the underground water that flows straight into the Pacific.
The only theoretical solution at this point is to build a wall of liquid glass between the nuclear reactors and the sea, siphoning off contaminated water from the underground trench.
Steam has also been seen emerging from one of the damaged reactors on three occasions, sparking further fears about the state of the wrecked plant.
Meanwhile, TEPCO has had to sustain bad publicity after it was revealed that it delayed publishing the summer study which sparked these newfound fears -- which were realized just days after TEPCO reassured the public that the water was safely enclosed. The government has labeled the company's behavior as "deplorable."