Japan outlines spending plans for Fukushima water crisis

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 02, 2013 11:15 PM

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Japanese government plans to spend 47 billion yen ($473.05 million) to deal with mounting amounts of radioactive water at Tokyo Electric Power Co's wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, the country's industry minister said on Tuesday.

The government will spend 32 billion yen building a wall of frozen earth around wrecked reactors to prevent groundwater entering basements and mixing with water being used to cool melted fuel rods, industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters.

A further 15 billion yen will be spent on upgrading water treatment systems to reduce the amount of contaminated water that is building up at the site and threatening to overwhelm clean up efforts after the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

About 14 billion yen for the frozen wall and 7 billion yen for water treatment will be deployed from the country's reserve budget for the current business year, Motegi said.

Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, said on Monday it found another spike in radiation levels near a contaminated water tank at the plant, which was destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Tepco is rushing to contain contaminated water that continues to increase at a rate of 400 metric tons a day, with floods of groundwater mixing with highly radioactive water that is constantly poured over the destroyed reactors to keep melted fuel rods cool.

The utility said last month that as much as 300 metric tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from another tank. ($1 = 99.3550 Japanese yen)

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Richard Borsuk)