Panel Considers Fukushima Daiichi Ice Wall Ineffective

Media reports are indicating that a panel of experts has deemed the ice wall underneath buildings 1-4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear generating station to be a failure, owing to a critical 1 percent of the wall in which temperatures remains above freezing.

TEPCO Ice WallJapanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) issued a report on Aug. 18 concerning the wall of frozen soil meant to stop groundwater from entering the radioactive area under the plant. The panel's response was to conclude that the wall "had shown little or no success” and that TEPCO was now forced to look for another solution to the groundwater flowing through the crippled facilty. “TEPCO, however, believes that the unfrozen sections can be fixed if coated with concrete,” said a report published by RT.

Construction of the $344 million frozen wall began in 2014 with Kajima Corporation as the major contractor. The wall is about a mile in length and approval was given to activate the underground pipes (that together freeze the soil into a wall) in late March of 2016. It was hoped that the wall would seal off groundwater that was entering the area under the plant that suffered massive damage after the tsunami event that knocked out back up power in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.

The quantity of water entering the plant, about 50 tons per day, has been little changed owing to the point that the 1 percent of the frozen wall that is not effective coincides with the areas of heaviest water flow, the reports said. Apparently, the parts of the wall that are effective are of little consequence owing to the parts of the wall that remain in breach.

The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing. They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plant,” Asahi Shimbun quoted panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka as saying. Kitsutaka was identified as a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

The problem is that water flow has not been fully contained, said TEPCO General Manager Yuichi Okamura. “It's like a vicious cycle,” he said. “Like a cat and mouse game … we have come up against many unexpected problems,” he said.

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  • Anonymous

    It is odd.  The last report of influx was ~350 tonnes per day, down from 400.  Getting down to 50 seems a major improvement.