Fukushima’s ice wall has to be kept frozen indefinitely, must not defrost

Nuke Fatigue & the 2020 Tokyo Olympics EE Times, Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, 6 Sept 13,  “…………So far, I’ve heard no skeptics in Japan questioning the science and long-term viability of the technology behind the proposed ice wall — especially on NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster.

To hear the argument against it, I had to turn to Tuesday’s edition of the PBS Newshour, whose link my former colleague and science writer George Leopold sent via e-mail.

‘Risky experiment’
In the program, Arjun Makhijani, an engineer specializing in nuclear fusion and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, called the proposed ice wall scheme “a risky experiment.”

Looking at Risks if the Fukushima Ice Wall Defrosts

 Makhijani explained that the Japanese “hope to freeze the soil, basically, with a giant freezing machine, just like your freezer at home, [to] put cooling coils in the soil, lots and lots of them.” He pointed out that this scheme “takes an enormous amount of electricity.” That is just what the Fujushima nuclear plant can’t do.

The biggest worry is potential power failures. Makhijani said:

if the power fails, you know, just like if your — when the power goes out with your refrigerator, everything will de-freeze in — defrost in the freezer.  Even though ice wall technology had been used frequently to stabilize the ground in big construction projects, like the Big Dig highway project in Boston, The New York Times pointed out that some critics are dubious.

They argue that it’s a costly technology “that would be vulnerable at the blackout-prone plant because it relies on electricity the way a freezer does, and even more so because it has never been tried on the vast scale that Japan is envisioning and was always considered a temporary measure, while at Fukushima it would have to endure possibly for decades.” http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&_mc=SM_EET&itc=eetimes_sitedefault&doc_id=1319412&page_number=2

 

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