Monday, August 25, 2014

Effectiveness of Fukushima Ice Wall Unclear to Experts

MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - The effectiveness of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) plan to create an “ice wall” to contain the waste water used to cool the failed reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is so far unclear to experts.
"As the water comes down the mountains towards the ocean, it's not clear to me that [TEPCO] really knows how it is going to move around that frozen barrier," former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and the head of the international advisory panel to TEPCO Dr. Dale Klein said in an interview with VICE News, published Sunday.

Along with the other experts, Klein is worried by TEPCO not keeping the public informed about the dangers currently posed by the failed reactors. "They give off the perception that they're covering up something, when that isn't what they're doing at all," the analyst said.
TEPCO officials have repeatedly been accused of negligence and not sharing enough information with the public. Three months after the March 2011 catastrophe, The Wall Street Journal released a report based on interviews with TEPCO engineers, saying the company knew some of its reactors were incapable of withstanding a tsunami.
In August 2013, TEPCO admitted that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the nuclear power plant, significantly more than the public was led to believe.
And early in August 2014, the company revealed that all the fuel rods in Fukushima Daiichi reactor three have apparently melted down, while in November, 2011, it was estimated that only 63 percent of the reactor’s fuel cord had melted.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the plant in March 2011, leading to the extensive leakage of contaminated water into the surrounding environment.

The negative effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are still being felt. Last week, Fukushima Prefecture officials announced that the number of young people diagnosed with definitive or suspected thyroid cancer, a disease often caused by radiation exposure, has reached 104. To illustrate the negative effects the disaster has had on animals and insects, researchers cite the example of the pale grass blue butterfly, which has seen a reduction in size and an increased mortality rate in the region.

In June 2014, TEPCO began to erect a mile-long underground wall of ice around the damaged reactors to stop toxic water from leaking into the Pacific. Later that month the company said it was having trouble with the construction of the wall, as the pipes carrying the coolant were unable to freeze the ground. Still, in July TEPCO decided to move forward with the ice-wall plans, hoping to complete construction by March 2015.

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