Construction cranes rise over the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. The Japanese government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to freeze the soil around its crippled reactor buildings to stop groundwater seeping in and becoming contaminated. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi / AFP

By Mark Willacy
31 May 2013

(ABC) – The Japanese government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to freeze the soil around its crippled reactor buildings to stop groundwater seeping in and becoming contaminated.

Every day another 400 tonnes of groundwater forces its way into the plant, becomes contaminated with radioactivity and needs to be stored onsite.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) already has a quarter of a million tonnes of radioactive water stored in tanks at Fukushima.

Fearing the nuclear plant is running out of space to store contaminated water, the Japanese government has ordered TEPCO to take the drastic step.

The government hopes these frozen walls of soil will stop huge amounts of groundwater leaking into the buildings and it wants the system to be in place within two years.

According to a report compiled by a government panel on Thursday, there are no previous examples of using walls created from frozen soil to isolate groundwater being used for longer than a few years.

This means the project at the Fukushima plant poses "an unprecedented challenge in the world".

Soil around Fukushima to be frozen to stop groundwater leaking in

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