Giant Protective Ice Wall Unveiled at Japan’s Fukushima Plant

TOKYO - A giant underground ice wall intended to protect Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant was unveiled on Tuesday. Journalists were given the first glimpse of the project, which will see 1,550 coolant-containing pipes driven 100 feet into the ground, freezing the soil and creating a layer of permafrost. In theory, this will stop groundwater and mountain runoff reaching the facility’s four reactors that were damaged in the devastating 2011 earthquake. The ice wall is due to be completed in March.

Earlier this week, the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority highlighted that a smaller ice wall planned to block contaminated water from escaping one of the facility's underground trenches has been beset by problems. Fukushima manager Akira Ono acknowledged that authorities have not been able to get sections of the wall to a low enough temperature to freeze, but he said Tuesday that the plant's operators have determined the cause and will press ahead with the plan.

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- Arata Yamamoto