Fukushima's Nuclear Plant is Still Giving Off Scary Levels of Radiation

New tests show the nuclear plant's groundwater is still toxic.

New reports from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) remind us that Fukushima's nuclear plant is far from fixed two years after the country was hit by an earthquake and resulting tsunami.

High levels of a toxic radioactive isotope have been found in groundwater at the plant, with tests showing Strontium-90 present at 30 times the legal rate. Tritium, another radioactive isotope, has been detected at elevated levels as well.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit the city and its power plant in March 2011 is considered to be one of the world's worst nuclear accidents, only the second disaster to measure a "Level 7" on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Three of the Fukushima plant's reactors suffered meltdowns. Two years later, officials are still struggling to stabilize the site.  

Earlier this year, the plant faced three power failures in five weeks. This month, officials also found radioactive water leaking from one of the storage tanks on site. 

Tepco wants to pump groundwater from the plant into the sea, but the most recent news on how toxic the plant remains may slow those plans. Tepco official Toshihiko Fukuda, in a BBC report, says that ocean water samples show no rise in toxic substances and that Tepco believes the groundwater is being contained by concrete foundations. "When we look at the impact that is having on the ocean," Fukuda tells the BBC, "the levels seem to be within past trends and so we don't believe it's having an effect."

But Tepco is running out of storage space for the large amounts of the water they use to cool the plant. According to the BBC, 400 tons of groundwater flow into the reactor buildings every day. Tepco has built 12 relief wells near the site in hopes of stopping the contamination.

Below, via Reuters, a look at the Fukushima plant and some of the nearby towns still suffering the aftereffects of the 2011 earthquake:

A leakage detective unit (C) and its detection punch unit on an underground water storage tank are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, in this undated handout photograph and released by TEPCO on April 6, 2013. Japan's nuclear regulator said on April 9, 2013 another leak was found in Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc's (Tepco) underground water storage pool at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where contaminated water was being transferred from an already leaking pool. (REUTERS/Tokyo Electric)
Water tanks are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Noboru Hashimoto/Pool)
A worker walks in front of water tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Noboru Hashimoto/Pool)
A water pump draws groundwater from a well, to prevent the water from getting into the reactors, as the No.4 reactor building is seen in background at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool)
A general view of the cover installation for the spent fuel removed from the cooling pool is pictured at the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool)
Members of the media and TEPCO employees walk alongside a wall lined with thousands of paper cranes during a media tour at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Noboru Hashimoto)
80-year-old fisherman Shohei Yaoita (R) removes a crab from a fishing net, after fishing in waters close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013. The catch will be used to test for radioactive contamination in the waters near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. Commercial fishing has been banned near the tsunami-crippled nuclear complex since the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research, and is carried out by small-scale fishermen contracted by the government. Picture taken May 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)
A laboratory technician uses a Geiger counter to measure radiation in fish, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013. Commercial fishing has been banned near the tsunami-crippled nuclear complex since the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research, and is carried out by small-scale fishermen contracted by the government. Picture taken May 28, 2013. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)
Local residents pray at a shrine for victims of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Iwaki, about 30 km (19 miles) south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 27, 2013. Commercial fishing has been banned near the tsunami-crippled nuclear complex since the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research, and is carried out by small-scale fishermen contracted by the government. Picture taken May 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)
Flowers bloom among the foundations stones of houses destroyed by the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Iwaki, about 30km south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 27, 2013. Commercial fishing has been banned near the tsunami-crippled nuclear complex since the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research, and is carried out by small-scale fishermen contracted by the government. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)

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