World and Nation

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Longtime executive at Goldman is departing

J. Michael Evans, a Goldman Sachs executive once seen as a possible candidate to succeed Lloyd C. Blankfein as chief executive, is leaving the Wall Street firm.

In a memo sent to Goldman employees Monday, Blankfein and Gary D. Cohn, his second-in-command, announced that Evans, 56, had decided to retire and would leave at the end of the year.

“Michael has played a number of leadership roles in building important businesses and growing our client franchise across divisions and regions,” Blankfein and Cohn wrote.

Evans, who joined Goldman in London in 1993, has run several big divisions at the bank. He moved to Hong Kong in 2004 to be chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific, a position he held until 2011, when he was named global head of growth markets.

But Evans is best known outside the bank for his leadership role on Goldman’s Business Standards Committee, a group formed after the financial crisis as part of a push by the bank to be more transparent after criticism that it put its own interests ahead of those of clients.

Over the years, it has been suggested that Evans, a Canadian and onetime Olympic-level rower, might succeed Blankfein as chief executive. His name, however, has come up less in recent years, leading to speculation inside the bank that he might move on.

Cohn is considered to be the front-runner to take over from Blankfein. But the chief executive, who is 59, has shown no sign of wanting to move on, increasing the chances that another candidate will instead be his successor.

—Susanne Craig, The New York Times

Rainwater problem hits Japan’s closed nuclear plant

TOKYO — The operator of Japan’s wrecked nuclear plant said Monday that rainwater from a weekend storm became contaminated as it collected behind barriers meant to stop radiation leaks. The toxic water overflowed those barriers at several locations, with some of it possibly spilling into the Pacific Ocean.

It was the latest in a litany of lapses and aggravations for the problem-plagued cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said water from heavy rain Sunday had accumulated behind foot-high concrete walls that encircle clusters of storage tanks. TEPCO built those barriers to contain spills from the storage tanks, a problem that has led to intense public criticism of the company.

However, on Sunday the barriers acted as dams to trap the rainwater into unintended ponds. Water levels in 11 of those ponds rose high enough to spill over the barriers, TEPCO said. It said some of the spilled water may have flowed down a drainage ditch into the Pacific outside the plant’s artificial harbor.

After the rain, TEPCO said it tested water in the ponds that overflowed and found that a half-dozen were contaminated with levels of radioactive strontium-90 above the limit of 10 becquerels per liter set by regulators for releasing water into the sea. Radiation levels at the most contaminated site were 71 times that limit, TEPCO said.

Releases of strontium are particularly worrisome because it can collect in human bones and possibly cause leukemia, experts say. TEPCO did not say where the strontium had originated, though the most likely candidate appeared to be radioactive particles scattered on the ground, possibly by the explosions that followed the triple meltdown in March 2011.

Another puzzle was why the rainfall Sunday, which the Japan Meteorological Agency measured at about 4 inches, was enough to overwhelm the foot-high barriers. On Monday, TEPCO offered one possible explanation, saying the barriers had already trapped water during a typhoon that swept through eastern Japan last week.

—Martin Fackler, The New York Times