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Fukushima Underground Protective Barrier's Freeze to Start Thursday

© AP Photo / Koji Sasahara, PoolA staff member of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)
A staff member of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) - Sputnik International
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The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), starts work on freezing the protective wall that will prevent contaminated ground water from leaking into the ocean on Thursday.

TOKYO (Sputnik) – TEPCO started to construct the ice wall in mid-2014 as a part of a $309-million project. Pipes that have been installed about 30 meters (almost 100 feet) below ground surface will be filled with a cooling liquid, which should prevent contaminated water from passing through. It will reportedly take eight months to complete the project.

Men wearing protective suits and masks work in front of welding storage tanks for radioactive water, under construction in the J1 area at the Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma in Fukushima prefecture. (File) - Sputnik International
Japan's Nuclear Watchdog Oks Use of Soil Freezing for Protection of Water

On Wednesday, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority approved TEPCO’s plan to freeze soil around the damaged reactor buildings at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

In March 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a 46-foot tsunami, triggered by a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake. The accident is considered to be the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

A staff member of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) - Sputnik International
TEPCO Bungles Fukushima Cleanup as Defective Robots 'Killed' by Radiation

The tsunami caused three of the plant's six reactors to melt down and radioactive materials leaked into the sea and air. Ground water contamination continues to be a major concern as the amount of water collecting underneath the plant is increasing.

According to TEPCO, the cleanup operation, including the dismantling of the plant's reactors, may take up to 40 years to complete.

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