Conflicting reports have left many baffled, and now nuclear experts have highlighted that no one really knows the true severity of the radioactive water leaks at Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
The crippled plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has been desperately pumping water into the wrecked reactors to cool nuclear fuel that melted when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant's power and cooling systems.
The utility has built more than 1,000 tanks holding 335,000 tons of contaminated water at the plant, and the amount grows by 400 tonnes daily. Some tanks have sprung leaks, spilling contaminated water onto the ground.
The toxic water is being stored in temporary tanks at the site and last month Tepco admitted that 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked, in the most serious incident to date.
Mycle Schneider, an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments, said the escalating situation is "far worse than we truly know."
"There are hundreds of issues at stake here," he told the Huffington Post UK.
"Whether it's temperature, radiation exposure, or the number of people exposed - all of these statistics are flawed. We don't know anything yet."
"This is far worse than what the general public are perceiving."
He blames the situation on the Japanese Government and Tepco who, he said, are refusing to accept the increasing severity of the issue.
"At the moment we are facing the challenge to conquer denial," he said. "This is simply organised denial.
"Japan's pride is certainly an issue here. But when you cross the line from pride to denial that's when something like this becomes truly dangerous."
"They are putting people in increased risk."
Japan's government announced on Wednesday it is to spend almost $500m (£320m) in an attempt to contain leaks and decontaminate highly toxic water at the devastated nuclear power plant.
The vast amount of money is set to be spent on a subterranean ice wall that would freeze the ground to a depth of up to 30 metres (100 feet) through a system of pipes carrying a coolant as cold as minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit).
This would theoretically block contaminated water from escaping from the facility's immediate surroundings, as well as keep underground water from entering the reactor and turbine buildings, where much of the radioactive water has collected.
However, the decision has widely been seen as an attempt to show that the nuclear accident won't be a safety concern just days before the International Olympic Committee chooses among Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as the host of the 2020 Olympics.
John Large, a Nuclear Engineer and Independent Nuclear Consultant, emphasised that the gross number of conflicting reports "flying around" are due to a reliance on just two sources of information – Tepco and the Japanese Government.
"This information is not only conflicted but also confused, and I fear, unreliable," he said.
"You have to wonder what their motives are."
The problem is, Mr Schneider added, is that nobody trusts TEPCO or the Japanese Government anymore.
"Can we blame the Japanese public for not trusting what these people are saying? They haven't exactly been trustworthy," he said.
"The ice wall project is an effort to come up with something that can be perceived as spectacular – they are throwing half a billion dollars into a futile project just days before the Olympic decision.
"But in practical terms, this is very questionable. It is not durable. This is not a sustainable situation and nobody knows if it will work. It's a panicked response."
The ice wall will be incredibly hard to maintain, experts said, pointing out that a simple power cut could "see the whole thing go up in smoke."
Mr Large said the new project is simply too risky to rely on, highlighting that the technique has only ever been used on a far smaller scale to control pollution before.
"They are building up a huge reservoir of radioactive material that will be free to circulate should this ice wall break down," he said.
"Ice walls tend to fracture and one of this scale has never even been tried before," he said.Suggest a correction