Tokyo: Cancer-causing radioactive substances have been found in groundwater at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, its Japanese operator said on Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said tests showed the highly toxic strontium-90, a by-product of nuclear fission that can cause bone cancer if ingested, was present at levels 30 times the permitted rate.

The firm said it had also detected tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen used in glow-in-the-dark watches, at around eight times the allowed level.

"From groundwater samples we collected, we detected 500,000 becquerels per litre of tritium, that is very high," a TEPCO official said.

The substances, which were released by the meltdowns of reactors at the plant in the aftermath of the huge tsunami of March 2011, were not absorbed by soil and have made their way into underground water. Subsoil water usually flows out to sea, meaning these two substances could normally make their way into the ocean, possibly affecting marine life and ultimately impacting humans who eat sea creatures.

However, a TEPCO official said seawater data showed no abnormal rise in the levels of either substance.


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