Japan is to Start Building That Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Remember that time Japan had the crazy idea to build a giant ice wall to contain the plant's radioactive water leaks? Well, it got funded and now it's about to be built. Really.

Following examination of the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) plans to build the gigantic ice wall, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the go ahead for construction to commence. While similar techniques have been used in the past, it's never been undertaken at the same scale as the proposed Fukushima plans. Speaking to PhysOrg, an anonymous official explained that:

"We had some concerns, including the possibility that part of the ground could sink. But there were no major objections to the project during the meeting, and we concluded that TEPCO can go ahead with at least part of the project as proposed after going through further necessary procedures."

In June, then, engineers will begin building a 0.9-mile frozen wall that should stem the flow of radioactive groundwater. We've explained how it will work before:

The idea is to drive vertical pipes spaced about a meter apart between 20 and 40 meters into the ground and to pump coolant through them. This would effectively create a barrier of permafrost around the affected buildings, keeping the contaminated water in and groundwater out.

Despite the fact the plan is to go ahead, TEPCO may have to review other parts of the project as it progresses. There are some concerns that the ice wall may affect existing infrastructure—drains, utilities and the like—which will all have to carefully monitored once the project goes ahead. [PhysOrg]