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Japan OK’s Ice Wall At Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

The nuclear regulator in Japan has OK’d the use of a frozen wall of soil to prevent water entering the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Just a little over 5 years ago, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered the world’s second largest nuclear disaster, and the Japanese Government and electricity utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), have been working flat out ever since to mitigate the scale of the disaster. In the past month alone, numerous reports have been published investigating just how damaging the disaster has been in the immediate aftermath, and in the five years following.

Greenpeace, in its stereotypical inflammatory manner, recently published a report saying that the Japanese Government’s “massive decontamination program will have almost no impact on reducing the ecological threat” of the disaster. At the same time, a study published by a Stanford University professor highlighted three key lessons that must be taken away from the Fukushima disaster.

Fukushima Daiichi ice wall - 460 (Tepco)This week, however, the Japanese nuclear regulator has given approval to activate what is being called an “unprecedented refrigeration structure,” which will create a massive frozen barrier of soil to prevent any more water entering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant premises, thus mitigating the continual build-up of contaminated water.

According to a note published by The Associated Press, the government-funded project costs 35 billion yen ($312 million), and is built using pipes designed to freeze the surrounding soil, eventually forming a massive 1.5 kilometer long wall around the reactor and turbine buildings.

The premise of the wall — a technology which is not new, but has never been designed at this size — is to keep groundwater coming down from the nearby hills from entering the area, and to keep existing contaminated water within — contaminated water which has provided a massive problem for Tepco and the Japanese Government, and is only recently being dealt with with much effectiveness. “In the last half-year we have made significant progress in water treatment,” Akira Ono, chief of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, said last week during a tour of the facility.

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