The Associated Press reports Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority gave permission to the operators of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to activate a system Thursday that will create a frozen barrier around the defunct facility.
The power plant melted down in the aftermath of a 2011 tsunami and released radioactive material into the environment in the most severe nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986. Since then, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., has been working on various systems to keep any further spread of radiation. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2014 that radiation from Fukushima, while in non-dangerous levels, had reached the western coast of North America.
With the regulator's approval, the company plans to activate a $312 million refrigeration system dug into the ground surrounding the plant. When activated, it will freeze the ground to create a mile-long ice wall to keep radioactive water from leaking into the region's groundwater and the Pacific Ocean.
The sheer size of the wall is unprecedented, according to the AP. A smaller version was used at a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory in Tennessee, but that wall only needed to stay frozen for six years. The Fukushima cleanup is supposed to take decades.
It will take several months for the ice wall to completely freeze. Let's hope there are no attacks from the wildlings before then.
Patrick Hogan is a reporter for Fusion based out of New York. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.