• 2 hours LNG Glut To Continue Into 2020s, IEA Says
  • 4 hours Oil Nears $52 With Record OPEC Deal Compliance
  • 7 hours Saudi Aramco CEO Affirms IPO On Track For H2 2018
  • 9 hours Canadia Ltd. Returns To Sudan For First Time Since Oil Price Crash
  • 10 hours Syrian Rebel Group Takes Over Oil Field From IS
  • 3 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 3 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 3 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 3 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 3 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 3 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 3 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 3 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 3 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 3 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 4 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 4 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 4 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 4 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 4 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 4 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 4 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 4 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 5 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 5 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 5 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 5 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 5 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 5 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 6 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 6 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 6 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 6 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 6 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 6 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 6 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 6 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 6 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 7 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls

Breaking News:

LNG Glut To Continue Into 2020s, IEA Says

Alt Text

Russia’s Nuclear Sector Is Surging

With a long-standing nuclear tradition,…

Alt Text

This OPEC Strategy Could Boost Uranium Prices Next Year

Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium…

Alt Text

New Tech Is Transforming Japan’s Energy Sector

The tech that built bitcoin…

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion

The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion

More than four years after the catastrophic tsunami that crippled several nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the Japanese utility that owns the site is struggling to deal with a continuous flood of radioactive water.

The tsunami knocked off power at the nuclear plant, which led to the meltdown of three of the six reactors, with a fourth severely damaged. The ongoing release of radioactive material has prevented anyone from entering parts of the complex.

But getting a handle on the mess, let alone permanently cleaning up the site, has been extraordinarily difficult. The problem is the daily flood of rainwater that flows downhill towards the sea, rushing into the mangled radioactive site. An estimated 300 tons of water reaches the building each day, and then becomes contaminated. TEPCO, the utility that owns the site, has been furiously building above ground storage tanks for radioactive water. Storing the water prevents it from being discharged into the sea, but this Sisyphean task does nothing to ultimately solve the problem as the torrent of water never ends. TEPCO has already put more than 500,000 tons of radioactive water in storage tanks. Related: France’s Areva Lost $5.6 Billion In 2014 – Is This The End?

To reduce the 300 tons of newly created radioactive water each day, TEPCO must cut off the flow of groundwater into the nuclear complex. To do that, it plans on building an ice wall that will surround the four reactors. TEPCO plans on building an intricate array of coolant pipes underneath the reactors, freezing the soil into a hardened ice wall that will block the flow of water. The ice wall will stretch one and a half kilometers around the reactors.

Great plan, except that it has never been done before. TEPCO may be able to freeze the soil, but there is no telling if it can build an ice wall without any holes that could allow water to seep into the reactor building. Questions surrounding the viability of the ice wall, and with it the prospects for halting the flow of radioactive water, heightened after TEPCO announced in mid-March that it was postponing the project. Related: China Builds Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake-Prone Pakistan

In fact, much of what TEPCO has to do to clean up the disaster area is daunting. TEPCO actually has to dig up radioactive soil and remove it, putting it in an interim storage facility. The idea is to make Fukushima inhabitable again, rather than indefinitely leave it as a radioactive and toxic no-go zone like the immediate surroundings of Chernobyl. When or if that can happen is anybody’s guess. The removal of radioactive soil began recently.

Another unnerving challenge is TEPCO’s plan to remove radioactive elements from contaminated water and then discharge the water into the Pacific Ocean, a plan that is facing enormous pushback. That’s because TEPCO has lost the trust of the public. Not only has the utility responded poorly to the cleanup, but it also recently admitted to not having publicly disclosed that a leak was resulting in radioactive water flowing into the ocean. TEPCO knew about the leak for more than ten months, one of a long line of acts of obfuscation that has enraged the Japanese public. The Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority gave its stamp of approval for dumping cleansed water into the ocean, but the fishing industry is hoping to block the plan, as many fishermen do not trust that the water TEPCO plans on dumping is in fact clean of radioactivity. Related: Middle East Oil Addiction Could Spell Disaster

The Japanese government hopes to prevent future nuclear meltdowns by constructing “The Great Wall of Japan,” a controversial $6.8 billion campaign to build around 440 sea walls along the coast to fend off tsunamis.

That may be able to prevent future disasters, but in the meantime the cleanup and decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues. It could take another forty years before the work is complete.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • PaulFrancis on March 24 2015 said:
    Arnie Gunderson had the right idea. Reroute the water before it reaches the radioactive site. In that way non contaminated water is put in the Pacific instead of radioactive water. There is a long slope leading from the mountains to the reactor site which is near the ocean. Yes, it is expensive but the engineering is guaranteed and so are the results. TEPCO are in charge but they are not an engineering firm but rather an operations firm. The stupidity of this is a fine example of how poorly humans manage pretty well everything.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News