‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation

Five years after the earthquake and tsunami, Japan is still picking up the pieces.

KYODO KYODO / REUTERS
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is illuminated for decommissioning operation in this aerial view photo taken March 10, 2016, a day before the five-year anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

• The nearly mile-long structure consists of underground pipes designed to form a frozen barrier around the crippled reactors.
• The $312 million system was completed last month, more than a year behind schedule.
• Nearly 800,000 tons of radioactive water are already being stored onsite.

Japanese authorities have activated a large subterranean “ice wall” in a desperate attempt to stop radiation that’s been leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for five years.

The wall consists of a series of underground refrigeration pipes meant to form a frozen soil barrier around the four reactors that were crippled during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Construction of the $312 million government-funded structure was completed last month, more than a year behind schedule, the Associated Press reports. The nearly mile-long barrier is intended to block groundwater from entering the facility and becoming contaminated.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, which owns the plant, activated the system Thursday, a day after obtaining approval from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

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