The 1.5 kilometer underground ice wall at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began construction on Monday, despite some groups’ skepticism that it can make a difference to the ongoing problems at the plant. The wall is part of operator Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) efforts to address the issue of the buildup of contaminated water at the plant, the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in 2011.
TEPCO said that on June 2, they have already started drilling a hole where the 12 centimeter frozen pipes will be inserted northwest of Reactor No. 1. The plan is to insert around 1,550 pipes around the plant at 1 meter intervals but this is not as easy as it sounds. It will take five days just to insert one pipe into the ground and so the actual freezing of the pipes to minus 30 degrees celsius will not begin until March of next year. This wall is expected to stop the flow of ground water into the building so that the storage problems of the contaminated water will be addressed.
The fisheries industry of Fukushima for one have stated they can’t really believe in the effectivity of the project unless it has been completed. But they are also praying that this will not worsen the situation, given they are one of the industries that are greatly suffering from the overflow of irradiated water into the ocean. Hiroyuki Sato, the head of the Soma-Futaba fisheries cooperative association, also admits that they are wary of TEPCO and the government, since there have been so many mistakes made during this entire decontamination process.
Residents of one of the evacuated towns in the Miyakoji district in Tamura, have also asked TEPCO to take proper safety measures in order for the people to feel like they can come home again. The evacuation order was lifted April of this year and yet only 7 or 8 households have returned since they are still unsure what will happen to the Fukushima plant until it is fully decommissioned. Even the government has some apprehension about the project. Hitoshi Watanabe, the head of the nuclear safety division of the Fukushima government said that the project needs to be carried out very carefully and that there should be some controls established by TEPCO.
[ via Mainichi ]