Japan pledges $470m for giant underground ‘ice wall’ to stop radioactive water flow from Fukushima nuclear plantPosted by Jim at Tuesday, September 03, 2013
3 September 2013 (BBC News) – Japan is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a frozen wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant to stop leaks of radioactive water.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said an estimated 47bn yen ($473m, £304m) would be allocated.
The leaks were getting worse and the government "felt it was essential to become involved to the greatest extent possible", Mr Suga said.
The plant was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The disaster knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.
Water is now being pumped in to cool the reactors, but storing the resultant large quantities of radioactive water has proved a challenge for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).
Under the government plan, a wall of frozen earth will be created around the reactors using pipes filled with coolant to prevent groundwater coming into contact with contaminated water being used to cool fuel rods.
Water treatment systems will also be upgraded to tackle the build-up of contaminated water, officials said.
Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, told the BBC that the situation at the nuclear power plant was an "unprecedented crisis" and that it was "getting worse".
He said the plan to freeze the ground around the site was "challenging", and a permanent solution was needed.
The technique has only been used on a small scale to control pollution before but not with radioactive contamination, he added. [more]