The Japanese government on Tuesday said it would spend the equivalent of $470 million to try to tackle the toxic water crisis at the country\’s crippled nuclear power plant.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday at a meeting of Japan\’s nuclear task force that he is optimistic that increased government funds can improve the situation.
"The world is closely watching whether we can dismantle the (Fukushima) plant, including the issue of contaminated water. The government is determined to work hard to resolve the issue," he said.
The plant\’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has struggled to store the massive amounts of water it has used to cool the reactors that were damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO has discovered several leaks in the specially built tanks meant to store the highly toxic water. In addition, groundwater flowing under the facility has been mixing with the toxic water and leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Officials say part of the funding announced Tuesday will be used to build a wall of frozen earth to block the surrounding groundwater. It will also be used to upgrade the plant\’s water treatment system to help reduce the amount of contaminated water.
Currently, about 1,000 of the tanks are holding about 330,000 tons of the toxic water. It is accumulating at a rate of about 400 tons per day.
On Monday, the head of Japan\’s nuclear regulator agency said it is possible that some of the radioactive water will have to be released into the sea.
Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the water would be filtered to bring the radiation levels below internationally accepted limits before it is discharged into the sea.