by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 26, 2014
Japan's nuclear regulator on Monday approved a plan to freeze the soil under the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to try to slow the build-up of radioactive water, officials said.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority examined plans by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to construct an underground ice wall at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant starting in June, regulatory officials said.
The wall is intended to block groundwater from nearby hillsides that has been flowing under the plant and mixing with polluted water used to cool reactors that went into meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Under the plan, which is funded by the government, the firm will circulate a special refrigerant through pipes in the soil to create the 1.5-kilometre (0.9-mile)frozen wall that will stem the inflow of groundwater.
"We had some concerns, including the possibility that part of the ground could sink," one official said on condition of anonymity.
"But there were no major objections to the project during the meeting, and we concluded that TEPCO can go ahead with at least part of the project as proposed after going through further necessary procedures."
However, TEPCO may have to review other parts of the project amid fears it might affect existing structures at the plant such as underground drains, he added.
The idea of freezing a section of the ground, which was proposed for Fukushima last year, has previously been used in the construction of tunnels near watercourses.
However, scientists point out that it has not been done on this scale before nor for the proposed length of time.
Coping with the huge -- and growing -- amount of water at the tsunami-damaged plant is proving to be one of the biggest challenges for TEPCO, as it tries to clean up the mess after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation.
As well as all the water used to keep broken reactors cool, the utility must also deal with the water that makes its way along subterranean watercourses from mountainsides to the sea.
Last week TEPCO began a bypass system that diverts groundwater into the sea to try to reduce the volume of contaminated water.
Full decommissioning of the plant at Fukushima is expected to take several decades. An area around the plant remains out of bounds and experts warn that some settlements may have to be abandoned because of high levels of radiation.
Nuclear Power News - Nuclear Science, Nuclear Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|