Home Emergency Management News TEPCO to Create Ice Wall to Prevent Groundwater Contamination

TEPCO to Create Ice Wall to Prevent Groundwater Contamination


Ice Wall Installation Complete

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has completed its installation of materials necessary to begin building an Ice Wall, or a frozen soil wall, to prevent the penetration of groundwater and its mixing with contaminated water in the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.  

The wall will completely surround the radioactive underground facilities, creating a watertight barrier.

To create an ice wall, chilled liquid is circulated through a series of underground vertical pipes that cause the soil to freeze down to the bedrock in a perpetually solid state, preventing groundwater from flowing through it, and thus being contaminated by the radioactive agents.

Inspection Still Needed

Construction began in 2014, and it is hoped that by preventing groundwater from entering the underground facilities, TEPCO can eventually begin to remove all the water from the underground buildings.  

Before the wall is frozen, its processes, along with those of the already operational pumping stations, must undergo inspection from Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority to ensure the entire process prevents the outflow of contaminated water.

Threefold Purpose

The frozen soil wall, or ice wall, which was first developed for tunnel use, has a threefold purpose:

  1. Prevent water contamination
  2. Remove the source of water contamination
  3. Prevent the leaking of contaminated water

The ultimate goal is to keep water from entering the reactor buildings.  TEPCO offers a general description of the plan for the ice wall and its long-term decommissioning plan on its website.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.