Japan Starts Constructing Ice Wall at Crippled Fukushima Power Plant

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  • A worker stands in front of an 18-m (59-ft) high and 1.6-km (1-mile) long tsunami defence wall at Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, in this file picture taken May 17, 2013. In the three years since
    A worker stands in front of an 18-m (59-ft) high and 1.6-km (1-mile) long tsunami defence wall at Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, in this file picture taken May 17, 2013. In the three years since the Fukushima disaster, Japan's utilities have pledged $15 billion to harden their nuclear plants against earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and terrorist attacks. But as Japan's nuclear safety regulator prepares to rule on whether the first of the country's 48 idled reactors is ready to be come back online, the post-Fukushima debate about how safe is safe enough has turned to a final risk: volcanoes. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY ENVIRONMENT DISASTER) REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files
  • Wearing protective suits and masks, a Japanese journalist heads for the central control room for the unit one and unit two reactors during U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy's visit to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at Okuma t
    Wearing protective suits and masks, a Japanese journalist heads for the central control room for the unit one and unit two reactors during U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy's visit to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS DISASTER ENVIRONMENT ENERGY MEDIA) REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool
  • Wearing a protective suit and a mask, an employee of Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) walks carefully along a dark aisle after U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited the central control room for the unit one and unit two reactors at TEP
    Wearing a protective suit and a mask, an employee of Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) walks carefully along a dark aisle after U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited the central control room for the unit one and unit two reactors at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS DISASTER ENVIRONMENT ENERGY) REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool
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Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of crippled Fukushima power plant, has started constructing a huge underground ice wall around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. This plan is seen to control and manage the production of toxic water at the complex devastated by a tsunami that was triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011.

The massive underground 1.5 km (0.9 mile) ice wall, similar to the snow-capped North Wall in the Game of Thrones, will be made by inserting 1,550 pipes into the ground. Coolant will circulate in the pipes thus freezing the surrounding soil.

Funded by the government at $300 million, the ice wall will prevent groundwater from seeping into the plant and mixing with contaminated water inside. The Fukushima power plant produces around 400 tonnes of contaminated water daily. They emanate from both cooling water being pumped into the reactors and from groundwater flowing into the basements of the stricken reactor buildings.

TEPCO has targeted the end of March 2015 as completion date of the gigantic wall. Fully freezing the soil, however, will take a few months, Kyodo cited an unidentified TEPCO official had said.

TEPCO announced the plans for the ice wall in September 2013.

Sceptics remain wary however if the plan will really work. TEPCO may be able to freeze the surrounding soil but keeping it frozen could be a problem. Summers in Japan sometimes spike to an average of 86 degrees.

The video of the construction of the ice wall can be seen here.

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