TEPCO Admits Fukushima-Radiation-Blocking "Ice Wall" Is Failing

It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since TEPCO decided to give its "Game of Thrones"-inspired frozen water wall a second chance, despite initially experiencing difficulty getting the temperature low enough to freeze the ground water. At the time, we questioned their sanity, but pointed out that "wasting" tens of billions of yen on the project would, at the very least, help out the region's badly damaged GDP...

...But today, with two years before the Tokyo Games, the Japanese utility company admitted to Reuters that the costly "ice wall" (more like an ice floor, it's essentially a ground barrier consisting of frozen soil) is failing to stop groundwater from seeping into the ruined nuclear reactors at the ruined Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.


The wall's failure, among other factors, is preventing the company from removing all of the radioactive melted fuel at the site, where one of the world's worst-ever nuclear disasters unfolded seven years ago when a tsunami struck the area.

When the "ice wall" was announced in 2013, TEPCO assured skeptics that it would effectively limit the flow of groundwater into the plant's basement, where the water becomes contaminated with radioactive debris.

But since the wall became fully operational in August 2017, an average of 141 metric tonnes of groundwater has seeped into the reactor and turbines each day - worse than the 132 metric tonnes a day that seeped into the ruined plant during the nine months before the wall's completion.

That's far from the "nearly nothing" that TEPCO executives promised.

The unplanned groundwater seepage has delayed TEPCO’s clean-up at the site, the company said, and may undermine the entire decommissioning process for the plant, which the utility is tasked with cleaning up before the 2020 Olympics, though in reality, the process will likely take decades.


Some of the 160,000 residents that were forced to flee after the disaster when the government declared an "exclusion zone" around the site are beginning to return to their former homes as the government has cut off their public assistance.

What people are finding is a ghost town overrun by radioactive boars.

As we pointed out, TEPCO's options are apparently at an impasse: The company has lost several "swimming robots" inside the destroyed reactors. The robots were sent in to search for the melted nuclear core.

As Reuters explains, TEPCO sunk 34.5 billion yen ($324 million) in public funds into the project, which involved deploying 1,500 tubes filled with brine to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet) in a 1.5-kilometre (1-mile) perimeter around the plant's four reactors. The plant then cools the brine to minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit). The goal is to freeze the soil into a solid mass.

What's worse, the continuing seepage has created more toxic water that Tepco must pump out and store in cumbersome containers. The company says it will run out of space for the water by early 2021.

One nuclear regulator who spoke with Reuters said he believed the wall had been oversold..

"I believe the ice wall was ‘oversold’ in that it would solve all the release and storage concerns," said Dale Klein, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the head of an external committee advising Tepco on safety issues.

"The hydrology of the Fukushima site is very complicated and thus the exact water flow is hard to predict," he said, "especially during heavy rains."

Depending on the level of rain, the amount of water flowing into the ruined plant can fluctuate between 83 tons during a dry month to 866 during a typhoon.

A government panel blasted the ice wall on Wednesday, saying it was only partially effective. What's worse, the ice wall was supposed to be a crucial element of Japan's plan to show that it has the cleanup effort under control.

The failure is bad news for area fishermen, because the government's only other viable solution appears to be emptying tritium-laced water into the Pacific Ocean - which has angered locals, and probably should anger the international community as well.


Jim in MN JackT Thu, 03/08/2018 - 21:27 Permalink

Here's a bigger financial story:


Utilities spent 5 trillion yen on idle reactors after disaster


March 8, 2018 at 18:40 JST

Electric power companies spent more than 5 trillion yen ($47 billion) to maintain and manage idle reactors, passing on the tab to consumers as “costs for nuclear power generation.”


In related news, they actually spotted some of the melted fuel for the first time since the disaster, just weeks ago.  And no, it was NOT inside the containment vessel....




Melted nuclear fuel seen inside No. 2 reactor at Fukushima plant


January 20, 2018 at 14:25 JST


In reply to by JackT

All Risk No Reward Oldguy05 Fri, 03/09/2018 - 14:49 Permalink

The real news that is being concealed is that the Money Power Monopolist Mega-Corporations that made all the decisions that led to this situation have offloaded their financial responsibility onto the tax payer due to the Money Power Monopolist control over government.

Hence the proper name, Supranational Money Power Monopolist Mega-Corporate Global Fascist Empire

In addition, the Mega-Corporations are actually profiting off their criminal negligence because they are being paid top dollar to fix the results of their criminal negligence.

Ordinary people just love being marks... 

Kick another field goal, Charlie Brown.

In reply to by Oldguy05

popeye Jim in MN Fri, 03/09/2018 - 01:41 Permalink

The article is BS.

The failure of the ice wall (predicted by almost everyone) has NOT impacted in the slightest Tepcos ability to decommission the reactors. There is no technology known to man that will enable these reactors to be decommissioned, and Tepco has advanced scientific knowledge in that direction not one iota.

Tepco has NOT sunk USD$342,000,000 into ice wall construction - the Japanese taxpayers have (well more precisely the BOJ has borrowed from future generations of Japanese to build the ice wall).

Similarly it is NOT Japanese utilities that have sunk money into idle nuclear reactors (rather than bite the bullet and decommission them - a task the Japanese DO have the capacity to do), but again those future Japanese (though with current declining procreation rates, they may prove to be figments of Haruhiko Kuroda's fervent imagination - so not sure who will really pick up the tab).  

In reply to by Jim in MN

Occident Mortal whatswhat1@yahoo.com Thu, 03/08/2018 - 20:51 Permalink

Just leave it alone.

This was a genuine meltdown. That means the fuel rods will have burned a deep hole in the earths crust. Who knows how deep? Everything above surface is now a perennial death zone. The safest thing to do is to just stay away from the place.

Just dig a huge moat around the entire site, maybe 200ft deep and fill it with concrete, then at least you can avoid contaminating surface water. Any groundwater below 200ft is probably not coming to the surface any time soon.


Using ice to serve as this barrier is bullshit unicorn thinking. Just dig a big fucking moat and fill it with concrete. It would probably be much cheaper.

In reply to by whatswhat1@yahoo.com

bunnyswanson Occident Mortal Thu, 03/08/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

3-11-2010 Iran and Japan sign agreement to provide Iran with nuclear capabilities.

3-11-2011 Nuclear explosion on major fault line in Japan destroys the island and sets off a meltdown.

Japan-Iran deal is never mentioned again.

There are no coincidences.



"... Japan was prepared to offer to enrich uranium for Iran’s nuclear power needs in an attempt to calm international concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program."

In reply to by Occident Mortal

sauldaddy whatswhat1@yahoo.com Fri, 03/09/2018 - 03:16 Permalink

This is the Kobe Earthquake in Japan that was a 7. 6. Look at all the damage Bridges's blown over huge fires etc


a 9.0 is 200 times more powerful and everything within a 1000 mile radius should of been Toast. 

But look the cars didn't move from there parking stall the wood buildings have zero damage.



In reply to by whatswhat1@yahoo.com

Mr... Robot Occident Mortal Fri, 03/09/2018 - 18:34 Permalink

The robots were sent in to search for the "melted" nuclear core.

It's not melted. It's "melting", It's a live ongoing process. The huge pile of fuel rods stored on top of each reactor are still melting down in a run away nuclear reaction. The last, and probably VERY last official release of real information on actual radioactivity numbers was 2 years ago. It said they detected the highest levels ever recorded in Fukushima Bay. Why would they still be going up after 4 years? I looked it up at the time and found out that they built the reactors where they did because it's on top of an underground river. Plenty of cooling. Either some, or all of the reactor cores have melted through the floor, and are still having reactions in the river pouring into Fukushima Bay = into Pacific. In an interview before the Jap gov made it an act of treason to put out a news report w/o gov approval on Fukushima, a rep told a reporter that it would be at least 200 years before the tech would exist to stop the nuclear reactions. 

In reply to by Occident Mortal

hannah RedBaron616 Fri, 03/09/2018 - 18:12 Permalink

'The Pacific Ocean is huge. It isn't ALL contaminated.'...what a stupid comment. how many years will it take before the radiation at fuku is safe? chernobyl was 30 years ago.....what is the half life of fuku?...1000 years 5000 years.....i cant buy real kombu for 1000 years...! forget about dashi for another 1000 years....

In reply to by RedBaron616

hannah Grandad Grumps Thu, 03/08/2018 - 23:29 Permalink

the only thing keeping the 'fuel' from burning is the 'leaking' water. that leaking cooling water is then allowed to leak into the ocean. without the cooling this thing would be 1000 times worse.....AND....they cant clean up anything. they dont know how without killing EVERYONE.....how do you pickup tons of nuke so toxic it kills cameras....right. this is all a game of charades....

In reply to by Grandad Grumps