Nuclear radiation check
© APOfficials check for signs of radiation on children from the evacuation area near the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.
The operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant says radiation levels at a water tank in the atomic facility are 18 times higher than previously measured.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said on Saturday that the highly radioactive water was dripping from a pipe used to connect two coolant tanks. The pipe was repaired using absorption material and plastic tape.

Reports say radiation readings in water are high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours.

On Friday, TEPCO also said that it found new deadly radiation hotspots at four sites around the tanks.

The plant operator admitted last week that 300 tons of toxic water had seeped out of one of the vast containers before anyone had noticed.

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has upgraded the level of a radioactive water leak at the country's Fukushima nuclear power plant to a "serious incident," or level three, on an international scale.

On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed a greater government role in stopping leaks of highly radioactive water.

"The accident in Fukushima cannot be left entirely to Tokyo Electric Power. There is a need for the government to play a role with a sense of urgency, including taking measures to deal with the waste water," he said in reaction to growing domestic and international criticism over TEPCO's handling of the crisis.

A massive earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns of three reactors at Fukushima plant in March 2011.

The Fukushima plant was damaged in a mega-earthquake followed by a tsunami on March 11, 2011.

A report released by a Japanese parliamentary panel later said the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant was not only due to the tsunami, but also a "man-made disaster."

The report criticized the "government, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power" for being devoid of "a sense of responsibility to protect people's lives and society."