Placement of the ice wall (blue)  (Source:
The construction company has until March 31, 2014 to create a feasibility study of the ice wall.

Japan has had a difficult time containing the water that flows through the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and into the Pacific Ocean, so it's going to try a new method -- an ice wall.

The ice wall technique turns soil into a permafrost-type condition through the use of refrigerated coolant. This would build an underground containment wall made of ice to hold the water and stop it from going into the Pacific. 

More specifically, the process calls for engineers sending vertical pipes about 20 to 40 meters deep into the ground around the structures, and about one meter apart from each other. On-site refrigerator units would then send the coolant through the pipes and create a frozen wall. The wall of ice would run 1.4 kilometers (0.9 mile) underground.

The government doesn't have a cost estimate for the project yet, but Kajima Corp. -- the construction company that largely built the nuclear plant -- has until March 31, 2014 to create a feasibility study of the ice wall.

The government would like the project to be completed by July 2015. 

The ice wall is not a new idea. It is currently used for temporary reinforcement in the building of tunnels and other projects. For instance, it was used in the construction of the Second Avenue subway in New York.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee also uses an underground ice wall to block radiation. 

Last week, it was reported that Fukushima is leaking about 300 tonnes of toxic water into the Pacific Ocean per day. The water, which is seeping through the soil and through the plant into the ocean, contains radioactive particles of cesium, tritium and strontium.

It's not clear how long the contaminated water has been leaking at this rate, but it's believed that this has been occurring for the last two years since the earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant. 

In response to the news of 300 tonnes leaking per day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to take part in the cleanup. 

"To ensure safety, I would also like the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to do his best to find out the cause and come up with effective measures as a regulator," said Abe. 

Back in March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake shook Japan and crippled the reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It caused quite a bit of havoc with the release of radioactive watercontamination of crops and of course, the thousands of lives lost.

Earlier this month, Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono confirmed at a regular monthly news conference that Tepco was aware of the leakage of radioactive water into the sea and groundwater. This was the first time the company had admitted this. Tepco had previously denied that any radioactive waste had reached the ocean, but it was eventually forced to start telling the truth in May after a coastal well sample showed abnormal levels of dangerously radioactive Caesium-137, which is a radioisotope with a half-life of 30 years.

Source: Bloomberg

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