” Packed with bulky silver pipes and freezing equipment, Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plant to freeze underground soil at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is ready to start chilling.
On Feb. 19, TEPCO officials showed the interior of the newly built facility, the heart of the project to reduce accumulating radioactive water at the nuclear complex.
The plan envisages a frozen soil wall built around the reactor buildings by inserting 1,568 pipes to a depth of 30 meters.
Cooling agents, which register 30 degrees below zero, will be pumped into the pipes to freeze the surrounding soil.
In theory, the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings, which would mix with contaminated water and empty out in the sea, will be blocked.
With approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority earlier this month, the utility plans to start freezing the area facing the sea as early as March, a process expected to take about two and a half months.
In total, it will take seven to eight months to complete all the freezing of the underground soil, including the mountain side of the wall, according to TEPCO’s blueprint presented to the NRA this month.
That means that the project to build a frozen barrier will significantly lag behind the initial targeted completion date of the end of March. ”
by Hiromi Kumai