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Japanese Plant Operators Deliberately Dump Radioactive Water

It'll take about two days for workers at a Japanese nuclear power plant to pump more than three million gallons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

They're doing so in order to free storage space for water that is even more highly radioactive than the water they're dumping. That water has stood in the way of efforts to stabilize the reactors damaged by last month's earthquake and tsunami.

The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation. But radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials say the dumping shouldn't affect the safety of seafood in the area.

Still, officials say they're becoming concerned about the sheer volume of radioactive materials spilling into the Pacific. It's not clear just how much water has leaked, in addition to what is being dumped.

On Monday, workers have also been using a dye to try to help trace the path of radioactive water seeping from the plant.

They discovered a crack in a maintenance pit over the weekend, the latest evidence that radioactivity is still spilling into the environment. But officials still can't say for sure that the pit is the source of the leak.

They tried over the weekend to clog the leak with a special polymer, sawdust and even shredded newspapers, but those efforts failed.

The radioactive water that is pooling around the plant is keeping workers from powering-up the cooling systems that are needed to stabilize the fuel rods.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Russia's nuclear agency says Japan has asked Russia to send a vessel that is used to help dispose of liquid nuclear waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines.

©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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