09/03/2013, 00.00
JAPAN
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Fukushima: a "frozen wall" to stop radioactive water

The government is ready to spend nearly half a billion dollars to build a cooling system for three of the reactors affected by the disaster of 11 March 2011. The use of water turned out to be almost more dangerous than the earthquake.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Japanese government plans to build a "frozen wall" around the Fukushima nuclear plant to stop the leakage of radioactive water and is ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for this purpose.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said an estimated 47 billion yen (US$ 473 million) 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.

On 11 March 2011, an earthquake hit the eastern coast of Japan, causing a huge tsunami with waves of over 40 meters high, hitting the Fukushima area ​​ and its nuclear power plants.

The 9-magnitude earthquake had a catastrophic impact: 15,850 dead, 6,011 wounded and 3,287 missing; 800,000 buildings destroyed; fires in many areas, roads and railways damaged; dams breached. Four million families in the Northeast were left without electricity and a million without water.

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 water 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.

 

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