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Japanese regulators on Wednesday approved the use of a giant refrigeration system to create an unprecedented underground frozen barrier around buildings at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in an attempt to contain leaking radioactive water.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said the structure, which was completed last month, can now be activated.
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it plans to turn on the ice wall on Thursday, starting with the portion near the sea to minimize the risk of contaminated water escaping into the Pacific Ocean. The system will be started up in phases to allow close monitoring and adjustment.
Japan Regulators OK Costly Ice Wall at Fukushima Plant
This seems to imply they only plan to run it for decades, not forever:
originally posted by: Profusion
That's a description of the very same water that the ice wall is meant to stop. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,110 years so I think the word "forever" is appropriate.
A smaller wall was used to isolate radioactive waste at an U.S. Department of Energy laboratory in Tennessee but only for six years. The decommissioning of the Fukushima plant is expected to take decades.
Asked at the meeting if the ice wall is worth the cost, TEPCO accident response official Toshihiro Imai replied, "Its effect is still unknown, because the expected outcome is based on simulations."
I just question if freezing a huge amount of water to create a wall is going to last...forever. I mean, it's going to have to last forever to be effective. That's not an exaggeration.
• The nearly mile-long structure consists of underground pipes designed to form a frozen barrier around the crippled reactors.
• The $312 million system was completed last month, more than a year behind schedule.
• Nearly 800,000 tons of radioactive water are already being stored onsite.
‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation