The Japanese government has announced plans to build a $470 million frozen wall around the reactors at Fukushima in an attempt to stem the radioactive water emanating from the nuclear plant. Radiation levels in the water are at lethal levels–strong enough to deliver a fatal dose within hours and higher than previously thought. There are approximately 300 tons of contaminated water leaking into the ocean each day.
The “ice wall” is created by drilling shafts 90 feet down into the ground around the stricken reactor and laying pipes. These are then connected to a refrigeration plant which will pump chilled coolant water–at around minus 20 to minus 40 degrees–through the pipes. Within two months there should be a wall of frozen soil which prevents the flow of groundwater. Sound complicated? Even the vice chair of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission,called the plan “challenging.” It’s the first time such a solution has been used on such a scale, and there is no guarantee of its success. The wall is not expected to be completed for 18 months,
Tokyo is presenting its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Buenos Aires this weekend. One thing is sure: The situation at Fukushima will not help.
[Image: Flickr user Felix P. Cabeza]