Rainfall from a number of typhoons that struck Japan in August partly melted the ice wall—a barrier of frozen subsurface earth—surrounding the damaged reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant, allowing highly radioactive water to escape the containment, Asahi Shimbun reports.
“Tokyo Electric Power Co. [TEPCO] said melting occurred at two sections of the ice wall, which is designed to divert groundwater away from the reactor buildings,” the paper reports. “TEPCO officials believe that during the latest typhoon, contaminated water from around the reactor buildings flowed through openings of the ice wall and reached downstream toward the sea.”
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“TEPCO admitted the underground wall of frozen dirt,” finished this spring at a cost of US$335 million, “is not working,” Asahi Simbun adds.
Observers have called TEPCO’s schedule for cleaning up the accident site by 2061, at a total cost of US$20 billion, wildly optimistic. The latest failure sent revised cost estimates soaring above earlier expectations, the South China Morning Post reports. Citing Japan’s interior ministry, the paper said securing and cleaning up the site of the March, 2011 reactor meltdowns, currently about $US800 million a year, could rise to “several billion dollars a year.”
The revelation came in ministry documents prepared for a special panel trying to write a plan to keep TEPCO solvent—or break it up. The company has been under government control since the meltdown.