Daily Video

September 4, 2013

Fukushima “Ice Wall” Plans to Stop Radioactive Water Contamination

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After the Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged in a massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the plant’s reactors went into meltdown and cleanup from the radioactive contamination has still in its early stages.

The most pressing problem is the hundreds of tons radioactive water, used to cool the reactors, leaking from the storage tanks into the groundwater below. The plan to stop the leak involves a sort of “ice wall” beneath the plan that will freeze the ground to prevent radioactive water from getting through.

Workers plan to drill hundreds of boreholes around the reactors and pump them full of supercool seawater to freeze the ground.

However, the plan faces obstacles, including getting close enough to the locations to drill the boreholes.

“It may be that they have to make the ice wall further away from the radioactive source than they would have ideally wanted,” said Trevor Jones, a nuclear technology consultant.

It’s being suggested today’s action is to improve Japan’s image abroad on the eve of the decision to choose the 2020 Olympic host nation, in which Tokyo is a leading host candidate.

Warm up questions
  1. What do you know about nuclear power? What are the benefits and risks of nuclear power?
  2. What do you know about the Japanese earthquake of 2011?
Discussion questions
  1. What did you find most surprising about this video?
  2. How involved do you think the government should be in the production of energy?
  3. Do you think the risks of nuclear power outweigh the benefits? Why or why not?
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