TEPCO’s ice wall operation not meeting expectations

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Fukushima Daiichi Ice Wall Operation

In September 2013, Tokyo Electric announced that it planned to drill freeze wells at three feet intervals to create an ‘ice wall’ nearly a mile long  at the Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors, where an estimated 11,000 tons of contaminated wastewater is believed to have collected, in an attempt to stem contaminated water from flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

At the time experts were not confident that the ice wall plan would be successful, and in fact were concerned that even if the ice wall was constructed it would only drive the wastewater even deeper underground, but TEPCO pushed forward with the $320 million project anyway.

In April, workers had completed constructing the equipment for the ice wall and began pumping calcium chloride cooled to -22 Fahrenheit into the wells near the Unit 2 reactor.

TEPCO officials announced today that they have found that the ice wall plans are not progressing according to plan.

“We have yet to form the ice stopper because we can’t make the temperature low enough to freeze water,” a TEPCO spokesman said.

The officials say that the operations are being hindered by debris and objects in the tunnels and the continual spread of wastewater through the site.  They believe that the operation may be salvaged if they can control the underground water currents and add more wells to increase the amount of coolant that is injected.

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