An international nuclear expert expressed his doubts on Thursday on whether Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s plan to build an ice wall would effectively stop the leakage issues at the disaster stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex. The Japanese central government is also backing this plan, but a number of experts are skeptical if this solution could really limit the water contamination from the facility.
“I’m not convinced that the freeze wall is the best option,” said former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein. Klein heads a supervisory panel tasked with overseeing the plant operator’s nuclear safety efforts. “What I’m concerned about is unintended consequences,” Klein said. “Where does that water go and what are the consequences of that? I think they need more testing and more analysis,” he said. Klein also said that the plan may actually not function as intended due to untested assumptions about the site’s hydrology. The Japanese government has gone on record saying in September that it would fund the construction, giving around 32 billion yen (USD$313 million) to construct the 1.4 kilometer subterranean wall.
Former British Atomic Energy Authority Chairperson Barbara Judge, also part of the said panel, said that there needs to be an assessment if the ice wall would even be effective during the summer season. “No one has built a freeze wall this long for this period of time. Typically, you build a freeze wall for a few months,” Klein also added. These remarks by two international nuclear experts come at a time that concerns about the plan are also being raised by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and engineering experts. TEPCO, the plant’s operator, seems set on pushing through with the ice barrier plan, and it remains to be seen if these comments will have an effect on the embattled operator’s decisions.
[via Kyodo News]