Japan Building ‘Ice Wall’ To Contain Fukushima Radiation

Japan will build an expensive “ice wall” to contain radiation-contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant has leaked 300 tons of radioactive water per day since it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

In an effort to protect the surrounding area, the Japanese government announced the wall’s construction, which will cost about $320 million to build.

The wall will be underground and is meant to keep contaminated water from flowing into the sea, reports ABC News. Along with the ice wall, Japan will also spend 15 billion yen to upgrade water treatment plants in the area. The new plants will be able to remove radioactive elements.

The entire project announced on Tuesday will cost just under half a billion dollars to complete. But it is necessary, according to the country, to contain the massive amount of contamination leaking from Fukushima.

While the idea of an ice wall could conjure up several strange images, it is easily explained. Rather than an actual wall of ice, the wall is really a network of coils much like what you would find in your refrigerator or air conditioner. The coils transport liquid nitrogen at low enough temperatures to freeze the ground and create a wall the water can’t get through.

The BBC notes that Japanese government spokesman Yoshide Suga explained that the leaks are getting worse as time goes by. Suga added that the government “felt it was essential to become involved to the greatest extent possible.”

Once construction is complete, it will take about six to eight weeks for the coils to create a 90 foot deep wall of frozen soil. While the concept has been used before on a smaller scale, it has never before been tried at such a scale. There is uncertainty the frozen wall will work like it should.

But despite criticism about the project, Japan will move forward with construction of the ice wall. There was no word on when they will begin.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

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