Tokyo, 3 September
The Japanese government has unveiled a $470 million plan to stem radioactive water leaks at Fukushima, including freezing the ground underneath the stricken nuclear plant.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference yesterday that officials had a project to pipe refrigerant through buried pipes and to decontaminate toxic water. “We estimate some 47 billion yen will be needed for the project,” he said.
Groundwater from nearby hillsides has been flowing under the plant and mixing with polluted water that has already seeped into the soil. This groundwater has then made its way into the Pacific, taking its mildly radioactive load with it.
Scientists want to circulate a special refrigerant through pipes in the soil to create a “frozen wall” that will stem the inflow of groundwater. The government will also finance a project to upgrade nuclear decontamination systems at Fukushima.
Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has long struggled to deal with the huge amounts of water used to cool reactors that went into meltdown after being struck by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.