5 Mars 2016
March 3, 2016
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is expected to soon get approval to start underground freezing around its reactors. The measure is aimed at creating a frozen soil wall to cut the amount of groundwater flowing into reactor buildings.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, hopes to build the wall around the 4 reactors as part of efforts to contain radioactive water, which is increasing daily due to inflowing groundwater.
The construction stage of the project finished in February, with about1,500 of cooling pipes buried.
On Thursday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority basically approved the plan to begin the freezing.
The regulator had raised concern that such a wall could lower the groundwater level around the buildings too much, causing leaks of highly contaminated water there.
In response, TEPCO proposed doing the freezing work in stages, starting at the groundwater's downstream side. If groundwater levels were to fall too steeply, the firm would restore them by stopping the pumping up of groundwater in nearby wells.
The regulator is to give final approval this month if it receives a concrete emergency response plan from the firm and finds no problems.
TEPCO hopes to start the work as soon as possible. The utility expects that once it is done and other measures are taken, the groundwater inflow will be sharply reduced.
But the work could take 8 more months. The firm had planned to finish the wall by the end of March.