Fukushima: robot finds massive deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel


Click to enlargeInt’l Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning/Kyodo News

❝ Images captured by an underwater robot on Saturday showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1m on the bottom inside a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

❝ On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day investigation of Unit 3 ended on Saturday.

Locating and analysing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels…

When you screw-up a nuclear-fueled power plant the sort of damage you produce is generational in scope.

3 thoughts on “Fukushima: robot finds massive deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel

  1. Aibo says:

    Meet the robots looking for fuel after Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear disaster (CBS News “60 Minutes” Sunday Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/meet-the-robots-looking-for-fuel-after-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-disaster-60-minutes/ Seven years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused a massive nuclear meltdown in the Daiichi Power Plant, Lesley Stahl reports on the unprecedented cleanup effort.
    …Authorities hope specially designed robots will find, remove and secure the toxic material in special containment vessels. But it could take 50 years and cost an estimated $200 billion.

  2. Update says:

    “Japanese utility makes first contact with melted Fukushima fuel : Pebbles of melted nuclear fuel were mostly able to be moved.” (Ars Technica 2/18/19) https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/japanese-utility-makes-first-contact-with-melted-fukushima-fuel/
    “Late last week, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) sent a probe into the damaged second reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The probe’s mission was to explore the solidity of the nuclear fuel that melted back in 2011, when a tsunami hit the nuclear plant following an earthquake, causing a meltdown of the plant’s three reactors. Eight years later, TEPCO is making slow but steady progress toward decommissioning the three damaged reactors. The mission to touch the melted nuclear fuel with a remote-controlled probe aimed to find out how solid the melted fuel is and whether it could be transported away from the site. This was the first time that field crews had been able to use any device to physically interact with the fuel since the reactor meltdown.”

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