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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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Leaking too fast for containment?
By chrnochime on 8/14/2013 1:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that the plant is leaking 300 tonnes of radioactive water each day, and putting a wall around the plant basically means the water has nowhere to go but build up inside, how long would it take to fill the ground within the underground walls so that the water overflows the walls , flow above ground and into the ocean that way?

By marvdmartian on 8/14/2013 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 4
Instead, why not dig a giant well, that all the water could flow into, then be frozen?

That way, we can hear every TV news anchor and reporter who covers the story say ICE HOLE on the air! ;)

RE: Leaking too fast for containment?
By Solandri on 8/14/2013 3:48:08 PM , Rating: 3
My understanding is that this isn't 300 tons of water they're adding to the containment pond every day which is draining out. This is a crack(s) in the concrete containment "bathtub" underneath the reactor, meant as a last resort to capture any leaked radioactive material. 300 tons is the estimated amount of naturally occurring groundwater (it is right by the ocean) which is seeping in and out through that crack(s) every day. Probably due to the twice-daily tides.

RE: Leaking too fast for containment?
By chrnochime on 8/14/2013 5:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
Okay then it would make sense to surround the tub you speak of with these ice walls, thereby forcing the groundwater that flow from elsewhere to not seep in and out of the crack, finally containing the leak. Hope it works because we've already seen some nasty mutated vegetables harvested from the radiation polluted area.

By flyingpants1 on 8/15/2013 4:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
Way to fall for a hoax!

RE: Leaking too fast for containment?
By KITH on 8/14/2013 4:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
The idea is to block ground water from flowing through the damaged radioactive site. The water blocked by the frozen wall would be forced to flow around it.

By Samus on 8/15/2013 1:49:46 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not a nuclear engineer, but does anybody else find it a bit ridiculous this thing is still melting down? If they won't even have the project up and running by July 2015, why can't they just move the radioactive material somewhere else. Even with Chernobyl they had radio controlled construction equipment to go where man couldn't, and they prevented the core from falling below the water table.

This had now become far more complex than Chernobyl if there is no plan for cleanup and they just want to shell the reactor from below, much like they shelled Chernobyl from above.

RE: Ridiculous
By flyingpants1 on 8/15/2013 4:35:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not melting down whatsoever.

RE: Ridiculous
By Samus on 8/15/2013 11:09:30 AM , Rating: 2
What? It has been considered a triple meltdown (3 reactor cores) since TEPCO finally came out with the finer details last year.

If the reactors didn't meltdown, they would be considered stable. Reactors have two states. Critical, and stable. If 300,000 gallons of water is being contaminated daily, it is far from stable.

RE: Ridiculous
By EricMartello on 8/20/2013 4:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
They should make the nuclear material into a viscous gel and then sell it as an all-natural anti-aging, weight loss-promoting miracle substance. Either that or just make it into a powder and add it into those little packets you get with instant ramen noodles.

The Starks might be able to help...
By hrunting on 8/14/2013 12:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Their ice wall has stood for hundreds of years:

RE: The Starks might be able to help...
By roykahn on 8/14/2013 4:27:19 PM , Rating: 2
Damn it, you beat me to it. I was gonna say that Jon Snow should help guard the wall.

By KayDat on 8/15/2013 5:20:17 AM , Rating: 2
And so my watch begins.

I don't see
By Strunf on 8/15/2013 7:36:29 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see the problem with this radioactive water going into the ocean... if it was spilled over a river that would be a problem but the ocean already contains plenty of radioactive material, these leakage is statistically insignificant.

It's probably just some eco maniac again, loads of rage no logic whatsoever.

RE: I don't see
By Nagorak on 8/16/2013 6:24:26 AM , Rating: 2
That was a joke, right? Right?!

RE: I don't see
By Strunf on 8/16/2013 8:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
No it isn't, radioactivity is very well part of mother nature creations, there are plenty of places with "high" radioactive levels that occur naturally, sometimes these places aren't that far from populated areas, they just don't allow to build your house there but these sites are no different than any other. And if you go to a high mountain or take the plane, bamm more radiation on your head and they don't even tell you.

There was even a company interested in harvesting the Uranium contained in the ocean water but the Uranium prices are still to low for it to be profitable.

You have to see it like this you pick a drop of poison and put in a glass of water, if you drink it you die but if you put that drop on a swimming pool chances are you aren't going to kill anyone, this is the same your 300 tonnes compared to the big swimming pool that is the Ocean means nothing.

Oak Ridge
By Jaybus on 8/14/2013 12:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think there is currently one in operation at Oak Ridge. A pond of waste from the Homogeneous Reactor Experiment of the 1950's, was found to be leaking in the 1990's and was contained by freezing in this way for 7 years. It was thawed and cleaned up around 2005.

Freezing is a temporary measure, but it turns out to be a good temporary measure. Containment works well, and it makes the future cleanup easier.

Also, failure of the refrigeration systems is not much of a risk. It took 2 years to thaw the ice containment of Oak Ridge's HRE pond, and Tennessee has much hotter, longer summers than Japan.

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