An expensive wall of ice, put in place to prevent a flow of contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, may have partially melted, the country’s public broadcaster NHK has warned.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) plans to reinforce the wall in early December, NHK said on Friday, adding that the company is also considering other measures to contain the toxic water.
TEPCO did not immediately confirm details of the report when approached by Reuters.
The ice wall surrounding the nuclear reactors is intended to prevent groundwater from entering or leaving the power plant, which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Although it’s called an “ice wall,” it’s actually a barrier of frozen ground that cost 34.5 billion yen ($ 324 million) in public funds to build.
Some 1,500 tubes filled with brine were sunk to a depth of 30 meters within a perimeter of 1.5 km around the four reactors at Fukushima. The brine is cooled to a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius.
The wall became fully operational in August 2018, but groundwater infiltration continued at the site despite TEPCO earlier giving assurances that it would reduce the flow to “almost nothing.”
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