Japan's tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is facing yet another emergency as highly radioactive groundwater appears to have risen above an underground barrier meant to contain it.
The head of the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force Shinji Kinjo told Reuters on Monday that the leak was an emergency, but he was worried the plant's operator, TEPCO, had no sense of how to deal with it.
He went on to say the highly radioactive groundwater is likely seeping into the sea.
In a recent news conference, TEPCO General manager Masayuki Ono said the situation was bleak.
"We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good."
To prevent further leaks, plant workers are injecting chemicals to create an underground barrier to block groundwater from leaking out to the ocean.
But experts say the barrier may not be enough as it needs certain conditions to solidify.
A retired nuclear engineer who worked on several TEPCO nuclear plants says the company is out of its depth.
"The situation is already beyond what TEPCO can handle. They are doing everything they can but there are no perfect solutions."
Some Japanese media outlets have predicted the contaminated water could breach the ground surface in the matter of just a few weeks.
Just last week, TEPCO estimated a cumulative 20 to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the nuclear disaster some two-and-a-half years ago.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang New