Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible (VIDEO)

Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
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AP, Apr 29, 2016 (emphasis added): Fukushima No. 1 plant’s ice wall won’t be watertight, says chief architect… Even if the frozen barrier… works as envisioned, it will not completely block all water… because of gaps in the wall… said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect… Tepco resorted to [this] after it became clear it had to do something drastic… [Okamura said,] “We have come up against many unexpected problems.” The water woes are just part of the many obstacles… No one has even seen the nuclear debris

Huffington Post, Apr 1, 2016: ‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation… [It's] a desperate attempt to stop radiation that’s been leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for five years…

Kyodo, Mar 30, 2016: The NRA warned earlier that if the groundwater levels within the [ice] walls is reduced excessively by blocking the flow from outside, highly contaminated water within the buildings could seep out as a result.

Proposal for controlling ground water and radioactive leakage in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (by World Water and Climate Foundation): [TEPCO] has a plan to freeze soil around the plant… this idea may not be sustainable… over the 200-year period that will be required for the reactors to be decommissioned.… The problem with freezing… is that solutes may be expelled from the ice… This can result in extremely concentrated saline solutions that do not freeze even at low temperatures. It is likely that under these conditions radioactive materials could become highly concentrated in dense brines that could then flow as density currents… Also, heating and cooling during the four annual seasons in Japan may make the ground of the station site softer and wetter like a swamp, and it could create another risk to the reactors, such as building destruction… The authors would like to express sincere thanks to Dr. W.F. Vincent, Dr. I. Ostrovsky, Dr. S. Kudoh and Dr. L. Legendre for their valuable comments and suggestions for strengthening this proposal.

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Integrated model of groundwater flow and radionuclide migration at Fukushima Daiichi… we will be able to answers critical questions such as… Will the cryogenic barrier lead to salt water intrusion at the site thereby mobilizing contaminants such as Cs and Sr that are mobile under high salinity conditions?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2015: Independent Technical Support for the Frozen Soil Barrier… several references discuss soil heave in the context of artificial ground freezing… It is possible that some observable heaving will occur directly above and directly adjacent to the frozen soil barrier… Monitoring of temperatures, heave pressures, and deformations… would provide information to assist in managing impacts from soil heave…

Geological Survey of Japan, 2015: [T]he sustainability of the ice wall remains doubtful… Furthermore, the ice lenses will grow irregularly as per the distribution of chiller pipes, and the sediment desaturation might lead to the aquitards’ compaction and subsidence around the buildings. In effect, a decrease in pore water pressure could increase the effective stress of the ground and result in movements and the formation of fractures in the superficial units.

IAEA, 2016: The IAEA group of experts reviewed the status of groundwater inflow, countermeasures and modelling… During the visit to Daiichi NPS on 18 February 2016, groundwater seepage on the slopes [i.e. cliffs over 100 feet high directly behind plant] that have been covered with facing was observed by the IAEA experts… seepage through the facing could create geotechnical instability on the slope if horizontal drains are not installed…

Watch TEPCO’s video on the ‘ice wall’ here

Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
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424 comments

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