The wall of ice being built around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is so far failing prevent contaminated groundwater flowing into the sea. Fast groundwater flow caused by heavy rains is thought to be preventing the complete freezing of the unparalleled 1.5km barrier of ice. The aim was to reduce the amount of newly contaminated water to 70 tonnes a day. However, heavy rain during the September typhoons increased that to more than 1,000 tonnes on some days. Before the wall was built, about 400 tonnes of water became contaminated each day. The government has so far spent $331m on the project. Japan is desperately trying to stop groundwater flowing from mountains into the basements of the buildings housing reactors damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The water comes into contact with molten nuclear fuel and other materials and then continues onward to the sea. The ice wall consists of 1,568 pipes driven 30m deep into the ground at 1m intervals. They are filled with refrigerant and cooled to minus 30°C to create a thick ice barrier around the stricken plant. The entire barrier is due to be completed next year. Work on removing molten nuclear fuel from the plant is scheduled to commence in 2021.
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