“The reactors continue to bleed radiation into the ground water and thence into the Pacific Ocean,” Gundersen said. "When Tepco finally stops the groundwater, that will be the end of the beginning,” referring to the water flowing into the leaking basements of the reactor buildings.
What to do with the nearly million tonnes of radioactive water is one of the biggest challenges, said Akira Ono, the site manager. Ono said he is “deeply worried” the storage tanks will leak radioactive water in the sea - as they have done several times before - prompting strong criticism for the government.
The utility has so far failed to get the backing of local fishermen to release water it has treated into the ocean.
Ono estimates that Tepco has completed around 10 percent of the work to clear the site up - the decommissioning process could take 30 to 40 years. But until the company locates the fuel, it won’t be able to assess progress and final costs, experts say.