Japan's Plan To Freeze Fukushima With An "Ice Wall" Is Melting Down

Tyler Durden's picture


Who could have possibly foreseen this?

A year ago we wished TEPCO the best of luck with the construction of the "Game of Thrones"-esque 1.4km giant wall of ice that was designed to surround the exploded Fukushima power plant and slow the movement of irradiated water below the damaged reactors, preventing it from flowing over into the ocean and surrounding land. A plan so idiotic we were at a loss for words trying to list the ways it could go wrong (we didn't bother with how it could go right because it clearly couldn't).

And, as it turns out, making a project overly complicated and ridiculous doesn't assure it will be a success. Quite the contrary. As Japan JIJI reports, Tepco said the project, which remains in its early stages, is experiencing a problem with an inner ice wall designed to contain highly radioactive water that is draining from the basements of the wrecked reactors.

A Tepco spokesman added that "We have yet to form an ice plug because we can’t get the temperature low enough to freeze the water."

Oh, you mean to say that a he plan whose success relies on freezing water may fail because... it is impossible to get the water to freeze? Truly some of the smartest Japanese scientists must have been behind this brilliant strategy, or at least those who were not involved in the planning of the BOJ's QE program of course.

The underlying idea was simple enough... on paper.

Trenches are being dug for a huge network of pipes under the plant that will have refrigerant pumped through them. If successful, it would freeze the soil and form a physical barrier, significantly slowing the rate at which uncontaminated groundwater flows into the reactor basements and becomes contaminated.


The coolant used in the operation is an aqueous solution of calcium chloride, which is cooled to minus 30 degrees. The ice wall employs the same technology as the trench project and involves the same contractor, Kajima Corp.

Alas, the reality is proving to be far more complicated than theory - just ask the Fed:

The idea of freezing a section of the ground was proposed last year. Engineers have used the technique to build tunnels near watercourses. But scientists point out it has never been used on such a large scale, or for the length of time Tepco is proposing.


Coping with the huge amount of water at the plant is proving to be a major challenge for Tepco, as it tries to clean up the mess after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation.


As well as having to collect vast quantities of water used to cool the melted down reactors, Tepco has been pumping up and storing water that drains down from inland mountains to the sea.


Full decommissioning of the plant is expected to take several decades. An exclusion zone remains in place, and experts warn that some former residential areas may have to be abandoned as settlements because of persistently high levels of radiation.

May have to be abandoned? Can't Japan just raise the minimum safe radiation dosage as it did back in 2011. That way people can assume they are still safe. And after all the whole exercise is to boost confidence, isn't it.

In conclusion: “We are behind schedule, but have already taken additional measures, including putting in more pipes, so that we can remove contaminated water from the trench starting next month,” a spokesman said.

Wait, wasn't the issue the temperature of the water, not the number of pipes. Oh who cares anyway, as long as someone pretends to be doing some work to "fix" the world's worst nuclear accident in history, having long since surpassed Chernobyl in severity. One can't have the locals realize the government is hopeless and that the Fukushima situation was a complete disaster from the start, and what's worse, one which can not be fixed. Especially now that Abenomics has failed, and the Nikkei is still down for the year, thus not providing the required dose of distraction from an increasingly irradiated life.

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Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:35 | 4872144 AdvancingTime
AdvancingTime's picture

Time for plan "B"

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:37 | 4872153 813kml
813kml's picture

I think they already tried plan B(ullshit).

Just nuke it already, how much worse could it get?

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:46 | 4872182 max2205
max2205's picture

But MSM says don't worry.....

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:54 | 4872216 flacon
flacon's picture

This is why I love Zero Hedge - it's so damn SNARKY! : "reality is proving to be far more complicated than theory - just ask the Fed"

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:01 | 4872247 The Big Ching-aso
The Big Ching-aso's picture

Japanese FUBAR....

Fukushima'd Up Beyond All Reality

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:08 | 4872275 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

They're not thinking clearly.  It's just probably because of all the   r   a   d   i   a   t   i   o   n

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 00:58 | 4872503 Four chan
Four chan's picture

junk shot? 

unquenchable subatomic fires are little som-bitches.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:23 | 4872952 Manthong
Manthong's picture

“Alas, the reality is proving to be far more complicated than theory - just ask the Fed”

Isn’t there a quant out there with all the answers?

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 20:04 | 4875964 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

"Japan's Plan To Freeze Fukushima With An "Ice Wall" Is Melting Down"


The plan worked fine.   People have been nodding along for the better part of a year rather than ask where the line of cement trucks is.
Queue plan B......a curtain of compressed air.    We'll take 10,000 of those sharper image fans with no exposed blades, dig a big trench, and point them facing in.    This should buy us at least another year.  

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 23:40 | 4876818 screw face
screw face's picture

ZeroHedge @ #FUKU....bitchez

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:03 | 4872508 Richardk888
Richardk888's picture

And how much energy would be required to take on such a task.  Last I checked, Japan did not have much in the way of excess energy.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:15 | 4872930 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

No reason they couldn't build a new nuke plant right next door to provide them all the power they would need for the freezing.

GE has some nuke power plant blueprints dated 1962 for sale, real cheap.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:28 | 4872968 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Ah.. so.. I am trying to get a hold of the concept of infinite heat sink.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 11:25 | 4873816 Matt
Matt's picture

They could probably use a really big thermopile to power the ice wall, since the temperature difference between the radioactive groundwater and the ocean is probably fairly high.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:06 | 4872511 El Oregonian
El Oregonian's picture

Japan's new energy motto going forward:

"Nuke till you Puke"

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:58 | 4872575 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

That will look really nice below their logo, "Olympics, bitchez!"

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 04:38 | 4872697 old naughty
old naughty's picture

Just cut the entire rising-sun isalnds out and stargate them into space (eh, moon of Mars perhaps?)...

Citizenry can ante up for a vacant unit in China, or Australia, or Canada.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 05:48 | 4872735 Aaaarghh
Aaaarghh's picture

They need the international community to start asking a shit load more pointed questions of Japan, and then ban the use of nuclear fuels in japan altogether for a start, and energy sourced from elsewhere (i know thats the kicker but common fucking sense instead of opting for the easier solution). Forget nuking the site, bury the fucking thing. We dont need the nuclear material aerosolising ffs.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 06:35 | 4872761 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Or, to quote yer avatar:  "Hey guys, safen up!"

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 23:44 | 4876831 screw face
Thu, 06/19/2014 - 04:44 | 4872698 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

Or maybe they need to restart a damaged reactor to supply enough energy to keep the coolers operational.

The freezer is one of the biggest energy consumers in the house. So imagine how much they need to freeze a area the size of 500 foodball fields... and do it for forever...



Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:09 | 4872276 rubiconsolutions
rubiconsolutions's picture

Japanese SNAFU....

Situation Normal, All Fukushima'd Up

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:34 | 4872987 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Fuku'd Up Beyond All Recognition?

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:55 | 4872222 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

I really hate idiots... Especially ones that presume to lord over others in such a stupid fashion...

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:46 | 4872185 ghengis86
ghengis86's picture

Cheer up. Godzilla was just a bad CGI movie (twice). We still have a few years until it actually materializes out of the sea.

Short Japanese life expectancy, long Mothra

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 02:05 | 4872584 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

Nah man.  What radiation does not outright kill, it fucks up.  But not in a Spider man or Godzilla kind of way.  Its more like the shit out your side and get fed through your nose kind of way.  The BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) study  pretty much summed it up. 

-->There is no safe dose of radiation<--

and low doses actually appear to be EVEN MORE dangerous.


Thu, 06/19/2014 - 03:29 | 4872656 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

and low doses actually appear to be EVEN MORE dangerous.

More dangerous than no doses or more dangerous than high doses? Could be a bold claim right here!
Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:49 | 4872199 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

It already nuked itself.  They're just not going to admit it.

Fukusima went full melt-down 3 days after the Tsunami hit.  Everything since then has been like watching a slow motion train wreck of unavoidable consequences.  

At every step they deny it happened.  At every step the reality of the situation steps in to prove their denial another lie.  They fall back, regroup and come up with another denial.

IT MELTED DOWN LONG AGO AND THERE IS NO STOPPING IT, NO CONTAINING IT.  Only denying it is left.  Denial and the slow realization that the only solution left to the pollution is dilution (spreading it around the entire Pacific Ocean and hope it doesn't spawn Godzilla in the next 500 years).

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:01 | 4872245 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

Indeed! That sums it up. TEPCO hasn't the balls to admit three full meltdowns buring through containment and somewhere they do not know. Down there in the ground are the cores. Clean up? That is a hoax, there will be no clean up. Who are they kidding. All they can do is keep flushing water in the general area of the cores to cool them down. This releases a constant flood of radioactive water, whcih is too much to contain. TEPCO are liars and fools.

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:16 | 4872295 BringOnTheAsteroid
Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:55 | 4872377 Miggy
Miggy's picture

When I saw a video last year of Japanese officials doing a stupid dance on stage in tandom to try and woo the Olympic commitee I knew the world had officially gone mad.


When they actually were rewarded the Olympics the date changed to then.


John 3:16

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 02:11 | 4872595 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

By the time the Olympics roll around the world will be in all out war. 

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 02:35 | 4872616 mkkby
mkkby's picture

Why didn't they just build the god damn reactors out of ice in the first place?  Fuckin stupid nips.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 05:51 | 4872738 barre-de-rire
barre-de-rire's picture

u fucking stupid, reaktor need liquid water, idiot.

you dont make energy with nuclear by itself, reaction boil water to make steam that rotate turbine,  go school , stop posting,  kill yourself, fucking american.



Thu, 06/19/2014 - 07:30 | 4872835 Davos
Davos's picture

One of you two forgot the sarc tag...

I think

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 10:01 | 4873387 Tall Tom
Tall Tom's picture

The sarcasm tag was not needed on the initial post. Mkkkby's post was such an outrageous comment that it can only be construed as sarcasm.


As to the respondent to the initial post...I believe him to be a dullard from other posts which he has composed.


Maybe he may learn something. Then again maybe he will not. I cannot care less about him.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:22 | 4872532 ObamaDepression
ObamaDepression's picture

Sadly that's the truth. The "ice wall" isn't crazy, its just impossible because of the continuing meltdown of the cores.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 02:11 | 4872596 COSMOS
COSMOS's picture

Jack this flushing of radiation is the equivalent of dispersal of all the nuclear waste in that place over the course of a few decades.  In Ukraine the when they found the molten core they called it the elephants foot because of the shape, a few years later they found that is started to crack and the outer surface was starting to break down into a fine dust.  So I ask you.  Flushing this crap with water for the next few decades is going to spread the contents of these molten cores as a fine dust all over the world, is it not?

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:30 | 4872327 813kml
813kml's picture

But it needs to be properly nuked so TEPCO can save face by blaming the radiation on a bomb.

I'm sure that Obomba would oblige, have it on the Hiroshima anniversary and spin it as a commemoration.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:49 | 4872564 SF beatnik
SF beatnik's picture

Trouble is, there might be enough radioactive material within range of ground zero to sterilize the planet of its last cockroach.

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 02:18 | 4872599 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Trouble is, there might be enough radioactive material within range of ground zero to sterilize the planet of its last cockroach.

and Politician

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 04:17 | 4872686 CuttingEdge
CuttingEdge's picture

Isn't putting cockroachs and politicians in the same context being harsh on the little critters?

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 05:07 | 4872710 cooky puss
cooky puss's picture

I figured politicians were included when he mentionned cockroach ;)

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:54 | 4872215 BandGap
BandGap's picture

Fuck, how stupid could we be? Japan hosts the fucking 2020 WINTER Olympics. They are going to be practicing their asses off thanks to TEPCO.

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:17 | 4872299 BringOnTheAsteroid
BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

TEPCO are going to decommission the fuck out of Fukushima.

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:20 | 4872312 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Slurry walls would work fine.  They are used all over the world.  Are these people idiots?


Thu, 06/19/2014 - 07:32 | 4872783 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

The Japanese don't have a lot of experience drilling for oil (which is the method needed, since there isn't room to excavate without releasing the irradiated water).

At 5000 psi, concrete is more or less waterproof, and even Haliburton could handle the cement job.

There are also polymer and lipid based soil stabilizers specifically engineered for toxic waste containment that reduce the capillary action of in situ soil to less than that of concrete.

But in both cases you need people with experience remediating disasters, not compounding them, as well as experience drilling and filling boreholes in wet environments.

What's disgusting is that the cost of doing it right is less than the cost of this INSANE dysfunctional Rube Goldberg machine, and doesn't require any energy on an ongoing basis.

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 22:42 | 4872172 BandGap
BandGap's picture

WTF, did Ultraman retire? Get his lazy ass working on this.

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:12 | 4872285 rubiconsolutions
rubiconsolutions's picture

So much for giving those reactors the cold shoulder. 

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 23:12 | 4872286 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

No plan "B"!

((((because it's plan "Z"))))

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