Full operation of the frozen wall at Fukushima Daiichi has begun. The entire process should take about 8 months to complete. Concerns remain that the wall could cause unintended consequences as water inside the reactor buildings draws down.
NRA cited this as their major concern and ceased full operation for months while the issue was discussed with TEPCO. The wall will be frozen starting with the sea side first and will be done in stages.
Unit 1’s basement has been one of the areas of concern. The draw down of water levels there were a risk for unintended consequences as the torus room and torus tube are known to have some of the fuel debris within them. TEPCO was able to draw down the water level low enough that they consider it to have stopped leaking water into the turbine building from the reactor building as seen in this diagram.
This along with a vague comment by an NRA commissioner that the plant likely still has an uncontrolled leak to the sea makes for an interesting set of potential events. Currently enough monitoring exists that a major change at the plant due to the frozen wall should be detected.
A press release by TEPCO given later in the day mentions that they will freeze 95% of the wall, leaving an section open to try to regulate groundwater levels. They cite having contaminated water leak out of the buildings as their largest concern. The final section would only be frozen after NRA approval.
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