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The scientists also cited that radioactive groundwater is not leaking much from the Runit Dome — an immense 350-foot-wide concrete lid that contains 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive soil — but cautioned that the structure’s bottom is not lined and is situated below sea level.

“Already the sea sometimes washes over [the dome] in a large storm. The United States government has acknowledged that a major typhoon could break it apart and cause all of the radiation in it to disperse. I’m persuaded that the radiation outside the dome is as bad as the radiation inside the dome. And therefore, it is a tragic irony that the U.S. government may be right, that if this material were to be released that the already bad state of the environment around there wouldn’t get that much worse,” said Michael Gerrard of Columbia University.

Japan’s Fukushima power plant is also leaking radioactive water

Just like the Marshall Islands, the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster has left ground water contaminated with radioactive materials six years after the unfortunate event. A team of researchers obtained samples from eight beaches within 60 miles of the power plant between 2013 and 2016 as part of their study. 

The experts observed that the levels of radioactive waste in some groundwater samples were as much as 10 times higher than samples taken from the port around Fukushima itself. Likewise, the experts have detected radioactive wastes in sands and brackish water as far as 60 miles away from the nuclear plant. According to the scientists, higher levels of radioactive materials ran up to more than three feet deep in the sand. The scientists explained that the sand acted like a sponge and absorbed the radioactive materials following the 2011 power plant failure. The experts have also cautioned that the toxic wastes are slowly being released back into the ocean.

“No one expected that the highest levels of cesium in ocean water today would be found not in the harbor of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, but in the ground water many miles away below the beach sands. Only time will slowly remove the cesium from the sands as it naturally decays away and is washed out by seawater,” said Virginie Sanial of WHOI.

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