Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday ordered increased efforts to stop radiation-contaminated water from spilling into the Pacific Ocean from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
A government official told reporters Wednesday that an estimated 300 metric tons (330 tons) of contaminated water was leaking into the ocean every day from the Daiichi plant, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Reuters reported.
The official also said the government believed the leaks had been happening for two years.
The plant’s operators Tokyo Electric Power Company has been building an underground wall by injecting “liquid glass” into the ground in an attempt to contain the contaminated water.
TEPCO has insisted that so far the level of contamination in the ocean does not pose a risk to health.
But some of the contaminated water has made its way through parts of the underground barrier and started to rise above ground.
In response, TEPCO announced that it would begin pumping out the contaminated underground water at a rate of 100 metric tons (110 tons) a day starting this week.
The main government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told the press that the government was considering providing financial assistance to help with the project.
The cleanup operation is expected to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion, Reuters reported.
Reuters contributed to this report.