In an attempt to stop contaminated water from leaking out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and entering the flow of groundwater that empties into the ocean, Japanese government announced Tuesday a plan to build a costly "ice wall" around the crippled nuclear plant.
At at cost of 32 billion yen (about $320 million) the underground ice wall will theoretically prevent contaminated groundwater from flowing out to sea by freezing the soil. Freezing the ground as a method of pollution control has been done before, but never at such a scale or with the intention of preventing radioactive water from escaping, according to the BBC.
Ever since a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the nuclear plant, causing three of its reactors to melt down, leaking radioactive water has been a never-ending hurdle that the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), has had to confront.
The government of Japan has largely allowed Tepco to handle the situation at the beleaguered nuclear plant, but in light of a string of highly publicized leaks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration has said it will step in with assistance.
Some have said the move, which comes just days before an International Olympic Committee meeting will decide whether Tokyo will be the host of the 2020 Olympic games, is an attempt to show the world that the government has the Fukushima situation under control.
"Instead of leaving this up to Tepco, the government will step forward and take charge," Abe said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. "The world is watching if we can properly handle the contaminated water but also the entire decommissioning of the plant."
The ice wall will freeze the ground up to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet) via a system of pipes carrying a coolant at a temperature of -40 degrees Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit), the AP reported.
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