Ice Wall to Stop Further Fukushima Leaks

After repeated failures, Japan chooses costly, untested path

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a joint-meeting by Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters and Nuclear Power Disaster Management Council at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, September 3

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that it will spend an estimated $470 million on an ice wall and upgraded water treatment units to contain the leakage of contaminated water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Through a system of pipes carrying a coolant, the soil surrounding the facility will be frozen to a depth of 100 feet. The method has been used to keep water from entering parts of tunnels and subways, but has never before been tested in a project similar to this.

After leaks of thousands of tons of tainted water into the sea, the government recently took over responsibility of the containment project from the utility‚Äôs owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Today’s announcement comes only days before the International Olympic Committee chooses between Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as the host city for the 2020 Olympics.