Workers on Sunday poured a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper into a crack at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility that's been a conduit for highly radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean, a utility company official said.
This follows an unsuccessful attempt a day earlier to use concrete to plug the 2-meter-deep (6.5-foot-deep), concrete-lined basin, where authorities had found water gushing directly into the sea via a roughly 20-centimeter crack.
Eighty bags of a water-gel mix made by the Tokyo-based IB Daiwa company will be used in the operation. Each one contains 100 grams of material that includes a special polymer. A Tokyo Electric official said the substance should expand to several thousand times its size as it sticks, ideally, to plug the leak.
The cracked shaft sits behind the No. 2 reactor's turbine building at the facility, which has been in constant crisis since the failure of cooling systems and numerous explosions in the wake of last month's epic earthquake and tsunami.
Fixing the problem quickly is critical because officials believe it is one source of alarmingly high levels of radiation spotted in seawater near the plant.
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