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Japan Technology

Japanese Ice Wall To Stop Reactor Leaks 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the proposal-by-kim-stanley-robinson dept.
minstrelmike writes "Japan is planning to install a two-mile, subterranean ice wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant. 'The ice wall would freeze the ground to a depth of up to 30 meters (100 feet) through a system of pipes carrying a coolant as cold as minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit). That would block contaminated water from escaping from the facility's immediate surroundings, as well as keep underground water from entering the reactor and turbine buildings, where much of the radioactive water has collected.' The technology they're using has not been used to that extent before, nor for more than a couple years. An underground water expert said, 'the frozen wall won't be ready for another two years, which means contaminated water would continue to leak out.' But at least they have a $470 million plan ready to present to the Olympic committee choosing between Madrid, Istanbul or Tokyo."
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Japanese Ice Wall To Stop Reactor Leaks

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:13PM (#44748649) Homepage

    Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

    • What do you mean nothing went wrong? I thought Tokyo would get leveled, for the 3rd time this week!

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:54PM (#44749227)

      Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

      Well, it could lose power.

      I mean, sure, there's a quite a bit longer time to failure once the power is lost compared to the reactor cooling system (i.e. the time it would take for underground super-chilled ice to melt), but seriously what is it with Tepco and safety systems that rely on the thing they're protecting working right?

    • Really? A big wall of ice and you go with a Godzilla reference?

      You know nothing, ColdWetDog.
      • by WarJolt (990309)

        Duh... radiation in the ground water causes a godzilla like creature to grow in a subterranean cavern. Eventually godzilla erupts from the ground taking the ice wall with it. How did you not get that?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Godzilla was created by US under-sea nuclear testing. It was actually an anti-nuclear movie, with the monster representing the damage that it can do.

        • by Gman2725 (2947573)
          In which series reboot was that again? Godzilla has had a backstory varying from nuclear accident to reincarnation of Japanese war dead spirits throughout the history of the character.
    • Frozen ground is only waterproof if there are no holes. Frost heaves tend to break up the ground and make holes. The ideal solution is to make new containment ponds and move the radioactive stuff to that.
      • Re:Best solution? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whit3 (318913) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @09:08PM (#44752469)

        Frozen ground is only waterproof if there are no holes. Frost heaves tend to break up the ground and make holes.

        Actually, a frozen region in the soil is a good container, because water that starts to
          leak through... freezes solid and plugs the leak.

        Frost heave is caused by thermal gradient, and
        transports water to the coldest spot (which is
        the container wall, safely underground) then freezes it.
        So, no problem there!

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          This is a nice answer to those below who don't understand how this works. But... Nobody really knows where the molten cores of these nuclear reactors are, how deep they are, what amount of groundwater flows through them. When Tepco's inheritor finds the cores they will trumpet it as a great victory. That won't be for 20 years hence.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  • The Wall? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PlastikMissle (2498382) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:16PM (#44748689)
    Will there be a semi-monastic order of warriors pledged to man it and protect the realms of men?
    • I don't care, I just don't want a bunch of undead to start walking out of the plant if the wall fails.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      only 100ft... lame :)

    • Wrong wall. (Score:5, Funny)

      by MRe_nl (306212) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:31PM (#44748879)

      We don't need no radiation
      We don't need no Tepcontrol
      No dark sarcasm in the controlroom
      Tepco leave them rods alone
      Hey! Tepco! leave the rods alone!

    • More importantly will it be as strong as the one that holds our oceans and atmosphere from falling off!?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    minus 40 degrees Celsius != (minus 40 Fahrenheit)

  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:20PM (#44748743)
    I don't understand why so many nations are trying to reach a consensus on military action in Syria over a chemical weapon attack that may or may not have been done by the regime there but nobody has suggested multi-national cooperation to take over the mess in Fukushima. Japan has failed miserably at dealing with this crisis and continues to do so. It's time to tell them to get the fuck out of the way and bring world-wide resources to bear on this. The UN should be bringing countries together to solve problems like this.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:24PM (#44748799)

      Exactly. How about we build an ice wall around Syria and fill it with all the nuclear waste from Fukushima.

      Or was that not what you were suggesting?

    • by mcl630 (1839996)

      They're only doing this to show the International Olympic Committee that they're doing something about it. It's pretty disturbing that if they weren't trying to get the 2020 Olympics, they wouldn't be doing anything.

      • by Znork (31774)

        One sort of wonders if the bids to host the Olympics are drying up. If the choice is between one country that will massively riot at Olympic spending while the economy is crap, another country that might very well be in civil disorder due to conflict between a repressive religious government and a significant secular population and a third that has significant problems with radioactive materials in the hands of idiots then I suspect the events surrounding the games will be far more exciting than the actual

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:27PM (#44748847)

      Because one has killed over 100,000 people and seems to be escalating towards massacre while the other might have killed a person or two and could go on to... possibly prevent people from moving back in to a small city for a while - all effects localized in a single country.

      Scale. If Japanese radiation starts affecting Russian food safety or something, then you might go to the UN to let more monkeys in to fuck the football.

      • by Flavio (12072)

        possibly prevent people from moving back in to a small city for a while - all effects localized in a single country.

        A lot of this water is escaping into the ocean, making this a global problem. At this point, we have the tragedy of the commons [wikipedia.org].

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @03:03PM (#44749353)

          possibly prevent people from moving back in to a small city for a while - all effects localized in a single country.

          A lot of this water is escaping into the ocean, making this a global problem.

          No, because by the time it gets to global extent, it's so dilute it's not a problem any more.

          At this point, we have the tragedy of the commons [wikipedia.org].

          No, the tragedy of the commons happens when negative consequences are externalized, creating an incentive for a rational, self-interested actor to exceed optimal use of a resource.

          While certain negative consequences are externalize in this case, there's already ample disincentive from the local effects to make nuclear power incidents such as the recent troubles at Fukushima very undesirable to the state they occur in. If a state could be accurately modeled as a single rational, self-interested actor, they'd have prevented this leak from happening in the first place, because the cost of decent regulation is less than the harm of the local effects only -- that it happened anyway is not because they needed more disincentive from the further (and comparatively slight) harm done to the world's oceans at large, but because of regulatory capture and other effects that can't be explained without recognizing that real government consists of multiple actors, many of whom, through serving their own interest, frequently end up working against the state's interest.

        • by nojayuk (567177) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @03:45PM (#44749855)

          There's about fifty million tonnes of radioactive potassium (K-40) in the world's oceans, all natural as you can get with a half-life of ONE BILLION years!!! so it will be a persistent hazard to health until the Sun enters its red giant phase. It's the reason seawater is highly radioactive and why seafood sets off scintillometers and radiation meters (counts of about 100-150 Bq/kg typically). It also makes detecting fission isotope contamination from Fukushima and the US thermonuclear tests in the Pacific kinda tricky when the samples taken close to Fukushima read 0.05 Bq/litre from cesium-134 and cesium-137 and the meters are pegging out from the 10Bq/l emissions due to the presence of K-40. The only way to accurately measure it is to record the spectrum of the particles and gamma radiation emitted from a smaple over a period of a few weeks since the energies of the radiation due to the fission products is different to the natural K-40 background of the seawater samples.

          50 million tonnes of K-40 versus a kilogramme or two of the cesium isotopes from the Fukushima reactors, which one concerns you more? Let me guess...

          • by Minwee (522556)

            50 million tonnes of K-40 versus a kilogramme or two of the cesium isotopes from the Fukushima reactors, which one concerns you more? Let me guess...

            I'll take "Whichever one I see on the nightly news" for $200 please, Alex.

      • The UN needs to go in because Fukushima increases the chances of ANOTHER Godzilla movie remake.
      • Scale. If Japanese radiation starts affecting Russian food safety or something, then you might go to the UN to let more monkeys in to fuck the football.

        Scale? The radiation being released will be highly toxic for the next fifty years, and some of it will remain toxic for hundreds of years. Millions of gallons are leaking into the ocean each week, and each gallon contains enough radioactivity to kill you several times over. What's going on in Syria will kill a few hundred thousand now... what's going on in the ocean is going to wind up killing many millions slowly and over a long time frame.

        And for the record, it is affecting Russian food safety. It's affec

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          what's going on in the ocean is going to wind up killing many millions slowly and over a long time frame.

          I don't know where you are getting your information from, but I'd love to see your source. The ocean is so big that you could probably drop the whole goddamn plant in the middle of it and have only local effects. A few million gallons of radioactive water with decades-long half lives is only going to affect Japanese fishermen and no one else. And since the risk is known, the chances of someone actually dying are almost nil.

          We're already finding radiation-poisoned fish washing up in Hawaii, South Korea, California, Alaska, and as the radiation plume spreads out, it's eventually going to circle the globe.

          No you aren't, you are finding fish with something like twice the normal level those

          • by MiniMike (234881)

            Do you have a citation for a single dangerous fish being caught outside of that part of Japan?

            Here's a few dangerous [nydailynews.com] fish [nbc-2.com] stories [www.cbc.ca].

            There was also a radiocative fish [huffingtonpost.com] caught near California, but it wasn't deemed dangerous. But it does go to show how far the effects of the disaster have been felt so far.

            • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @06:05PM (#44751341)

              There was also a radiocative fish [huffingtonpost.com] caught near California, but it wasn't deemed dangerous

              That's the kind of report I was talking about. The fish caught away from Japan haven't registered above background radiation, depending on where you live. The cessium radiation in the fish referrenced from that HuffPost article was 40 times lower than the natural level of radiation present in the fish from natural potassium. Of course, HuffPost would never mention that little tidbit, let alone link back to the source document [stanford.edu]. :)

    • Yes, let's bring in a UN international team to deal with this crisis, consisting of such notable experts as:

      U.S. FEMA, especially the Katrina veterans
      Russian crack team that saved Chernobyl
      Chinese People's Liberation Army, they handle all the earthquake disaster relief over there

      • by denobug (753200)
        Why is this post not +5 already for being funny?!
      • Agreed. Apparently we've already got Wile E. Coyote designing containment solutions.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The Acme Corporation would like to remind you that although Mr. Coyote is one of our best customers, he merely assembles our devices—often incorrectly—and has no part in their design.

          Sincerely,
          The Acme Corporation

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @03:16PM (#44749495) Journal
        "Russian crack team that saved Chernobyl"

        Chernobyl was not...exactly a triumph of reactor design or reactor operation; but the ensuing stabilization effort was actually pretty aggressive (albeit in a 'they had unprotected conscripts attempt to mostly extinguish a melted-down nuclear reactor and then construct a new containment building right on top of it with roughly the same attention to occupational safety and health that made the old penal battalions so exciting' sense).
    • by catfood (40112)
      Word. This is way more dangerous than some gas in Syria, and TEPCO is not solving the problem.
    • A number of countries have offered assistance. Japan has accepted some but have generally turned away the offer.
    • by Minwee (522556)

      I don't understand why so many nations are trying to reach a consensus on military action in Syria over a chemical weapon attack that may or may not have been done by the regime there but nobody has suggested multi-national cooperation to take over the mess in Fukushima.

      Good thinking. Perhaps we should form some sort of International Atomic Energy Agency [iaea.org] with the authority to monitor this kind of situation [iaea.org] and set safety standards [iaea.org].

      The only thing missing is a standing army to enforce compliance. All they have now is a big box to stand on and yell [phys.org].

  • ...with laser beams. Lots of robotic submarines and other stuff so that I can build my super villain lair in there where no one will find me shielded by a huge lead wall to keep out the radiation.

  • ... build a wall around it. I seriously hope, that the spent fuel pools don't need to live through another earthquake.
    • Problem is that the groundwater naturally flowing through the site appears to be flowing through the cracked foundations. The reactor cores in two, if not three, of those reactors are a pile of slag sitting in the bottom of the containment building. They continue to flush cooling water through the containment, in spite of the perforated reactor vessels and cracked containment building foundations. Some of this water is unnaccounted for -- more goes in than comes out in at least one reactor -- so clearly
    • for what it's worth, that's a huge concern. The fuel in the spent fuel pool in the reactor 4 building could be exposed if there is another earthquake and the pool cracks (more than it already has). The building apparently isn't the most stable structure in the world, right now.
  • Invest in offshore wind power and water power.

    It might sound silly, but it is much more cost effective than nuclear power.
    Look at how much damage the Fukushima has already cost TEPCO and the Japanese government.
    And it is not over yet: Fukushima's Radioactive Plume Could Reach U.S. Waters By 2014
    Everybody get are "fair" share.
    Just one of these accidents every twenty years and it is goodbye turnover.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @02:36PM (#44748951)
    Radiant Orange!
  • Why has no one discuss the reason that the good old concrete injection would not do the trick. We have the drilling technology and the injection technology at our disposal, both prove to be highly efficient. Are there issues we don't know about? Also I think the cost estimate seems to be too low.
  • A giant wall of ice? Where have I seen that before? [wikipedia.org]

  • Some icehole will be responsible for leaking radioactive water.
  • It seems like there are many reasons why this won't work. Why are they trying to beat this thing thermally? It seems unsustainable at the outset, in terms of cost and maintenance, let alone whether it will work in terms of mechanics and chemistry. If it's such a grand scheme that it's projected two years out, maybe the assumption should be that it's too complicated for Tepco to handle and/or it's too complicated for the delicate situation on the ground at Fukushima (where what integrity exists seem to be fa

    • by Teun (17872)
      This type of cooling has been done before, all it requires is a steady supply of liquid Nitrogen and that's easy though not particularly cheap.
      Typically you drill the circulating tubes for the Nitrogen at a fairly close spacing, the closer the quicker it'll freeze.
      Because soil is a fair insulator once you have a hefty chunk frozen you don't need to do much to keep it cold.
    • It seems like there are many reasons why this won't work. Why are they trying to beat this thing thermally? It seems unsustainable at the outset, in terms of cost and maintenance, let alone whether it will work in terms of mechanics and chemistry

      Don't worry about the costs - they can build a nuclear reactor onsite to power it. ;)

      This sounds like the technology that was used to freeze part of South Boston so they could build the Big Dig through the mud there. It does work.

      But they could be cleaning up the m

  • Nuclear winter is coming? :/

  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp.thenorth@com> on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @04:02PM (#44750087) Homepage Journal
    In Boston, for parts of the Big Dig in the Back Bay area, this was how the tunneling was done. The ground there is far too soupy (that's a technical term used by geologists) to tunnel through effectively. They ran water with an antifreeze agent (just salt I think) through the pipes and kept it chilled below the freezing point of regular water. Over time it froze the ground in the whole area so they could tunnel in it and reinforce the tunnel before finally allowing the ground to thaw. It seems to have worked just fine for Boston.
  • 1 - How long will the melted down core remnants needs to water to be applied? Can the corium still sustain a nuclear chain reaction if it were exposed?

    2 - Whats would occur if water were interrupted at this point? (They called it cold shutdown a year ago but sources seem to conflict)

    3 - How long will water need to be applied to the spent fuel ponds? From my understanding the fuel above reactor 4 is somewhat precarious since the building was compromised during the original explosions. Would these fuel rod

  • They contain the radioactive ground water with an ice wall. When do they turn it off? When the radiation decays? If they turn it off sooner, all the built up contaminated water will just leak through again.

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