Japanese officials announced a plan Tuesday to combat radiation leakage from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility after repeated incidents, including the construction of a subterranean ice wall around the perimeter of the station.
The Japanese government will spend an estimated 47 billion yen, or $470 million, on two projects through the end of March 2015, reported Agence France-Presse. The ice wall project will cost about 32 billion yen, or $320 million.
Refrigeration plants will run coolant chilled to -20 to -40 degrees Celsius (-4 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit) through pipes vertically buried 90 feet deep around the perimeter of the damaged reactors, creating a wall of frozen soil in an effort to direct groundwater flow away from the plant, reported the BBC.
An additional 15 billion yen - $150 million – will be spent toward water treatment systems to remove the remaining contaminants from the plant.
"Instead of leaving this up to TEPCO, the government will step forward and take charge," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after adopting the outline with his nuclear response team. "The world is watching if we can properly handle the contaminated water but also the entire decommissioning of the plant."
Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, told the BBC that similar strategies have been used for small scale pollution control, but never with radioactive contamination.
The Fukushima station was ravaged in March 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami, causing a series of nuclear meltdowns, equipment failures and the release of radioactive material. The accident received a level seven rating by the International Nuclear Event Scale. Along with the 1986 Chernobyl accident, it is the only event to receive the INES' highest rating.
The disaster remedy requires pumping tons of water in from numerous storage tanks to cool the reactors.
On August 7, a Japanese government official told Reuters the nuclear facility was leaking an estimated 300 tons of contaminated water from the storage tanks into the ocean each day. Abe ordered the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to ensure that TEPCO cleans up the spill, which is expected to cost $11 billion over four decades.
The discovery was followed by an Aug. 19 incident in which TEPCO reported 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank, the worst reported incident since the facility was hit by the natural disaster. There are concerns that the radioactive leakage will continue to seep into the soil and eventually reach the ocean.
Tokyo is currently a top contender to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, along with Madrid and Istanbul. Japanese officials have down-played the safety concerns they hope will not eliminate them from consideration.
The International Olympic Committee is currently meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to decide on the future host city, one new Olympic sport and to elect a new IOC president, and are expected to make their decision by Friday.