The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced back in March 2013 that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean again. Contaminated water was found to be overflowing from a storage tank. A few months later a solution was proposed which involved building a mile-long ice wall underground around the crippled plant to contain the leak. The plan has been funded and now an ice wall is going to be built around the nuclear power plant.
After examining TEPCO’s plans of building the ice wall the Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the green signal for construction to begin. During meetings no major objections were raised even though there were concerns which included the possibility that part of the ground could sink.
It merits mentioning here that similar techniques have been used in the past but not at such a massive scale. Construction begins next month when engineers will start work on the 0.9-mile ice wall which should help contain the leakage of radioactive water.
What engineers will basically do is drive vertical pipes spaced a meter apart between 20 and 40 meters into the ground. A coolant will then be pumped through the pipes which would create a barrier of permafrost, acting as a physical barrier between groundwater and contaminated water.
Even though TEPCO has received the go ahead for this project it might be required to review other parts of this project as work goes on. Engineers will have to carefully monitor existing infrastructure such as utilities and drains given that there are concerns about the ice wall affecting them.