Expert: Fukushima Ice-Sheet Plan Needs Closer Look

Global Security Newswire Staff
May 1, 2014, 9:55 a.m.

A key ex­pert urged Ja­pan to mull po­ten­tial haz­ards of build­ing an ice sheet to con­tain ra­di­ation at the dam­aged Fukushi­ma plant, Bloomberg re­ports.

Un­veri­fied be­liefs about how wa­ter moves around the Fukushi­ma Daii­chi com­plex may com­prom­ise a planned frozen soil lay­er in­ten­ded to lim­it the es­cape of con­tam­in­ated flu­id through earth at the site, Dale Klein, a con­sult­ant to plant op­er­at­or Tokyo Elec­tric Power, said on Thursday. Roughly 400 tons of ra­di­ation-tain­ted wa­ter has ac­cu­mu­lated each day from ef­forts to cool the dis­abled power plant, which ex­per­i­enced melt­downs in three of its six re­act­ors after an earth­quake and tsunami in March 2011.

“Are there any un­in­ten­ded con­sequences? … We’re con­cerned about safety and en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion,” Klein, who heads the plant op­er­at­or’s Nuc­le­ar Re­form Mon­it­or­ing Com­mit­tee, said in a brief­ing to re­port­ers.

Tokyo Elec­tric Power spokes­wo­man May­umi Yoshida said crews have not yet be­gun field­ing the ice sheet, and pre­lim­in­ary checks of the plan are still un­der way by the util­ity com­pany and the con­tract firm Kajima. The con­tain­ment meas­ure is slated to be ready be­fore next April, she ad­ded.

Klein said that if Tokyo Elec­tric Power “finds tech­nic­al in­form­a­tion [dur­ing test­ing] that in­dic­ates the frozen wall is not the best, they need to com­mu­nic­ate that to the gov­ern­ment.”

“I know the gov­ern­ment has said that they will put in the frozen wall, but I hope that sci­ence will trump polit­ic­al policy,” he said. Tokyo last year said it would provide $313 mil­lion for the ice sheet, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

Yoshida said Tokyo Elec­tric Power would “take Dr. Klein’s words sin­cerely and work stead­ily with the gov­ern­ment on the ice wall pro­ject.”

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