Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Japan unveils $470m plan for Fukushima water leaks

03 September 2013, 10:33

Tokyo - The Japanese government on Tuesday unveiled a $470m plan to stem radioactive water leaks at Fukushima, including freezing the ground underneath the stricken nuclear plant, as it pledged to lead from the front.

Chiding operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) for its haphazard management of the spiralling problems, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his administration will spend public money to get the job done.

"The government needs to resolve the problem by standing at the forefront," he told a meeting of his nuclear disaster response team.

"Discarding the current, impromptu response, we will set up our basic policies for a fundamental resolution of the contaminated water problem.

"The government will do its best and take the necessary fiscal action," he said, referring to tapping taxpayer funds.

Tokyo's move comes just days before a decision in Argentina by the International Olympic Committee on who should host the 2020 Games, with observers warning the situation at Fukushima could prove the undoing of Tokyo's bid.

Soil freeze

Thousands of tonnes of radioactive water is being stored in temporary tanks at the site, 220km north of the Japanese capital, much of it having been used to cool molten reactors wrecked by the tsunami of March 2011.

The discovery of leaks from some of these tanks or from pipes feeding them, as well as radiation hotspots on the ground even where no water is evident, has created a growing headache for Tepco.

Some of the highly toxic water that has escaped may have made its way into the Pacific Ocean, Tepco has admitted.

On top of this, the natural flow of groundwater from the surrounding hillsides which goes underneath the plant and out to sea is also causing problems.

As it pours through the soil it is mixing with polluted fluid that has seeped into the ground under the reactors.

Tepco says up to 300 tonnes of this mildly radioactive groundwater is making its way into the sea every day.

Under the $470m scheme announced on Tuesday, scientists will freeze the soil around the stricken reactors to form an impenetrable wall they hope will direct groundwater away from the plant.

This will entail burying pipes vertically and passing refrigerant through them. Officials estimate the whole project will take two years and cost around $320m.

A further $150m will be spent on equipment to remove radiation from water currently being stored.

On Monday the head of Japan's nuclear watchdog said it was "unavoidable" that water would have to be released into the ocean at some point, although he stressed it would have to be largely decontaminated first.

Tepco's clean-up at Fukushima has come in for increasing criticism from politicians, academics and Japan's usually quiescent public.

Last week a government minister compared its approach to plugging leaks with "whack-a-mole", the anarchic fairground game in which players must hit furry creatures with a mallet as they pop up at random.

The utility - one of the largest in the world - has been effectively nationalised by vast government bailouts needed to stop it from sinking beneath the weight of bills from the clean-up and compensation claims.

While the natural disaster that sparked the nuclear emergency at Fukushima claimed more than 18 000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the radiation leaks.

However, vast tracts of land had to be evacuated, with tens of thousands of people still displaced.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...