Japan to Build Ice Wall Around the Fukushima Nuclear Plant

March 31, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Wall of ice
Photo credit: Domonic Alves/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Similar ice wall methods have been used before, but one of this size has never been tested!

Japanese authorities have given the go-ahead to a $312 million project that will freeze the soil around the Fukushima power plant, which went into a radiation meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami during March 2011.

The latest approval of the multimillion dollar project, which will be funded by the Japanese government, comes after an earlier disappointment. Specialized robots were recently sent to clean up the Fukushima reactors, but they died as they approached uranium oxide rods in the plant due to extremely high levels of leaked radiation.

Now, the new plan will try to freeze the ground surrounding the plant so that contaminated water won’t be able to leak into the Pacific Ocean. Traces of Fukushima’s radiation have already been found in the Pacific, reaching as far as the west coast of the US, which is making some people nervous.

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The latest plan by the Japanese will make use of large refrigeration pipes that are suspended 30 meters underground, with the hopes of freezing all the soil around the pipes, eventually encompassing a 1.5 kilometer radius around the plant and containing the radioactive water.

The same ‘ice wall’ method has been used before to block water from parts of tunnels and underground subways, but the effects have never lasted more than six years.

Shinichi Nakakuki, a spokesman for the utility, told, “A test of part of the ice wall successfully froze the ground around it, and officials hope the entire wall can be formed within several months.”

“TEPCO officials say they hope the ice wall will stop most of the flow of groundwater into the area and allow the turbine basements to be dried by 2020, confining the contamination to the three melted reactors,” according to

With the completion of the refrigeration pipes, and approval from Japanese authorities to turn them on, we can only hope that everything will go according to plan to prevent any further environmental harm caused by the nuclear waste of Fukushima.

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