Ice wall around crippled nuclear plant may have melted — Analysis

A costly ice wall, set up to prevent an outflow of contaminated water from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, may have partially melted, the country’s state-run broadcaster NHK has warned.

The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) is planning to reinforce the wall as early as at the start of December, NHK said on Friday, adding that the company has also been considering other measures to contain the toxic water.

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TEPCO didn’t immediately confirm the details of the report when approached by Reuters.

The ice walls surrounding nuclear reactors are designed to stop groundwater entering and exiting the plant. It was damaged in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent damage.

Despite being called an ‘ice wall’, it’s actually a frozen soil barrier that cost 34.5 billion yen ($324 million) of public funds to construct.

Some 1,500 tubes filled with brine were sunk to a depth of 30 meters in a 1.5km perimeter around Fukushima’s four reactors. The brine was cooled to 30 degrees Celsius.

Although the wall was fully functional in August 2018, groundwater seepage continued at the location despite TEPCO’s earlier assurances that the flow would be reduced. “nearly nothing.”

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