TOKYO (AP) - Workers began pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the reactors.
It will take about two days to pump most of the less-radioactive water out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.
Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.
The pooling water has damaged systems and the radiation hazard has prevented workers from getting close enough to power up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.
On Saturday, they discovered that some radioactive water was pouring into the ocean.
The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation.