The Japanese government may have found a novel solution to the challenge of stopping the spread of radioactive water from the Fukushima disaster: a giant, underground ice wall.
The project, dubbed 'Land-Side Impermeable Wall,' features a series of 100-foot long pipes buried approximately three feet apart to form a mile-long rectangular formation around the doomed reactor.
Theoretically, the pipes will subsequently be filled with extremely cold water that will freeze below ground and solidify the soil around them into permafrost.
Once fully functioning, the design would ostensibly create an enormous underground wall of ice which would prevent radioactive water from flowing in and out of the enclosed area.
At an astounding cost of $325 million dollars, the ice wall project took two years to compete and was finally finished this past February.
Since then, engineers behind the endeavor have been slowly activating the ice wall to see if the concept will work.
So far the results of the project have been mixed as some portions of the ice wall have failed to freeze while other sections are nearly solid and it may take many more months before the viability of the underground ice wall is fully known.
Skeptics argue that the project is a needlessly complex solution to the problem which could have been easier solved using traditional materials such as concrete.
They also question whether the ice wall will stand the test of time, since previous engineering projects which used the technique only relied on it as a temporary tactic for the construction of underground tunnels.
Nonetheless, should the ice wall hold, it should allow Japanese authorities the opportunity to drain the immense amount of radioactive water that has accumulated at the site without having to worry about more flowing back into the area.
Where, exactly, they put the jaw-dropping 8,000 tons of radioactive water contained at Fukushima is an altogether different challenge that may require an even more imaginative solution than an underground ice wall.
Coast Insiders looking to learn more about the enormous nature of the disaster can check out our Fukushima Special from 11/9/2013, featuring four experts discussing the radioactive nightmare in Japan.
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Source: New York Times