Japan on Tuesday pledged almost $500 million into building an underground “ice wall” to contain leaks of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said an estimated 47 billion yen ($473 million) would be allocated for the cleanup.
The increasingly precarious state of the nuclear plant prompted the government to “become essentially involved to the greatest extent possible,” Suga said.
The government plans to freeze soil around critical buildings by pumping coolant through underground pipes, preventing groundwater from coming into contact with irradiated water.
The scheme will create a “seal” almost a mile long which the government hopes would prevent tons of highly contaminated water from further spilling into the sea.
Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, told BBC that the situation at Fukushima was an “unprecedented crisis.”
He added that the plan to freeze the ground around the site was “challenging,” and a permanent solution was needed.
Last month, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, admitted that one storage tank had leaked 300 tons of highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Hotspots with spiking levels of radiation have also been found near the tanks.
The ambitious plan comes days ahead of the announcement of the host nation for the 2020 summer Olympic Games, for which Tokyo is seen as the forerunner, along with Istanbul and Madrid.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image: Abode of Chaos/Flickr