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Fukushima Daiichi Frozen Wall Controversy Hits Stalemate

The NRA in Japan has put a stop to implementation of the frozen wall. Our ongoing reporting on the frozen wall can be found here. The work began in 2013 yet NRA did not raise concerns at that time that we were able to find. Work progressed since then with Kajima providing the construction and METI the financing as we reported back during the start of construction.

Now NRA has deep concerns that the frozen wall will cause the groundwater around the reactor buildings to drop, allowing highly contaminated water within the reactor buildings to leak out. TEPCO claims they could add groundwater back in via the subdrain pits to compensate. NRA didn’t seem to consider this sufficient but did not publicly state why. Background information on the subdrains can be found in our reporting here.

What has transpired since 2013 that could have changed NRA’s mind is some of the more recent findings during reactor inspections. We reported on the muon scans, both units 1 and 2 found no evidence of reactor fuel remaining in the reactor vessels. Inspections on unit 3 also resulted in no new evidence to confirm where the melted fuel is in that unit.

TEPCO reports the wall is completed without mentioning the hold up at NRA. Japan Times reports it as completed but NRA is “watching closely” with no mention of the hold up in implementation. Asahi reports the NRA concerns as holding the project from being implemented. In any case NRA provides no path forward to prove the wall and run it even in a test mode. Our review concluded that TEPCO’s plan to inject additional groundwater could provide the needed safety margin to do a test run of the frozen wall. That is unless there are other factors in play. Those other factors could be a huge problem but NRA isn’t saying what in detail could be the risks that make TEPCO’s plan unsafe.

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