A crack in the concrete-lined basin inside the Fukushima nuclear plant measuring eight inches has been discovered Saturday while Japan Prime Minister was touring the tsunami-stricken town of Rikuzentakata in northeastern Japan.
The new leak discovery adds up to the difficult task of controlling radiation leaks brought about by overheating reactors prompting officials to declare critical areas off limits to residents to avoid contamination.
"On Saturday, workers discovered an 8-inch (20-centimeter) long crack in a maintenance pit that was leaking highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, said Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama", AP/Yahoo News reports.
"He said the water contaminated with levels of radioactive iodine far above the legal limit found inside the pit could be one of the sources of recent spikes in radioactivity in sea water".
"There could be other similar cracks in the area, and we must find them as quickly as possible," he told reporters.
Spokespeople maintained the amount of radioactivity was so low it posed no health hazard.
Last Friday a nuclear plant worker fell into the ocean trying to board a barge carrying water for the overheated plant but no immediate radiation exposure has been detected, though official report has not been issued.
"The contaminated water will quickly dissipate into the sea and is not expected to cause any health hazard. Nevertheless, the disturbing discovery points at the unexpected problems that can crop up and continue to hamper technicians trying to control the crisis," the report added.
Earlier, fishermen in the earthquake and tsunami-hit areas have expressed sadness at the widespread devastation and eventual contamination of the shorelines and the open sea where they mostly depend on for their livelihood.
Farmers whose lands were located within the critical areas designated by authorities have likewise raised fears of losing their land which they have been tilling for years.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) earlier said the crack at reactor No.2 is where the power cables are stored.
The solution may involve covering the cracks with concrete and then siphoning water into a large artificial floating island called a "megafloat."
Officials are closely monitoring radioactive water levels off the plant and several kilometers away from the leaking facility to determine the extent of contamination.