The part above ground doesn’t look like much, a few silver pipes running in a straight line, dwarfed by the far more massive, scarred reactor buildings nearby.
More impressive is what is taking shape unseen beneath: an underground wall of frozen dirt 100 feet deep and nearly a mile in length, intended to solve a runaway water crisis threatening the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan.
Officially named the Land-Side Impermeable Wall, but better known simply as the ice wall, the project sounds like a fanciful idea from science fiction or a James Bond film. But it is about to become a reality in an ambitious, and controversial, bid to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings since the disaster five years ago when an earthquake and a tsunami caused a triple meltdown.
See Also: EDITORIAL: Is Fukushima ice wall project still viable despite early failure??The Asahi Shimbun
A government-backed, large-scale project to reduce the amount of contaminated water produced daily at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has become bogged down.
The project involves creating a frozen wall of soil around reactor buildings at the plant to stop the flow of groundwater into the facilities.
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the nuclear plant, have adopted this approach as the centerpiece of the efforts to reduce the volume of polluted water.
But the project has failed to produce the expected results.