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Nuclear ice wall to be turned on

FukushimaJAPAN: Permission has been given to activate the huge ice wall installed to stop groundwater pollution at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

The ice wall was completed last month and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power plans to turn on the ice wall on Thursday.

The JPY35bn ($312m) government-funded project consists of 26.4m tubes inserted into the ground at 1m intervals. Glycol at -30ºC will be circulated through the tubes to create a 2m thick, 30m deep and 1.5km long ice wall that will box in the four reactor buildings and the flow of groundwater.

The three reactors, damaged by the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, have to be continually cooled with water to prevent their cores overheating. The cooling water, which becomes radioactive, leaks out of the damaged reactors, mixes with groundwater and increases the amount of contaminated water.

Around 800,000 tons of radioactive water are already said to be stored in 1,000 industrial tanks at the plant.

The decommissioning of the Fukushima plant is expected to take decades.

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