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For Tepco and Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, toxic water stymies cleanup via The Washington Post

TOKYO — Two and a half years after a series of meltdowns, Japan’s effort to clean up what remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is turning into another kind of disaster.

The site now stores 90 million gallons of radioactive water, more than enough to fill Yankee Stadium to the brim. An additional 400 tons of toxic water is flowing daily into the Pacific Ocean, and almost every week, the plant operator acknowledges a new leak.

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The leaks into the ocean are far less toxic than the radioactive plumes that emanated from the plant after the earthquake and tsunami, forcing 160,000 people to move out of the vicinity. Thanks to that quick evacuation, experts say, there are no expectations of a Chernobyl-style spike in cancer cases — although the government is conducting thyroid checks of thousands of children. But the flow of contaminated water amounts to a slow-burning environmental disaster with implications for Japan’s wildlife and its food chain.

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The 40-year decommissioning is expected to cost 10 trillion yen, or about $100 billion — roughly two years’ worth of Tepco’s revenue — and the company says it is trying to save up and cut other costs. But for many Japanese, the company’s assurances inspire little confidence. Two members of Japan’s national legislature, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share what they describe as sensitive details, say Tepco continues to spend irresponsibly on lobbying politicians, offering them free trips to nuclear sites that include meals and lodging in hot springs resorts. A Tepco spokesman said the company does not offer such trips.

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