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In Fukushima, even robots can’t survive nuclear mayhem

The company that runs the Fukushima plant sent 5 robots to ground zero and not a single one survived. Incredibly high radiations in the block causes heat levels to rise and this melts the robots’ wiring.

A tsunami, triggered by an earthquake on March 11, 2011, initiated the Fukushima Daaiichi nuclear disaster in Japan which led to the evacuation of over 200,000 people.

Even after 5 years, there is still a tremendous amount of cleanup work left at ground zero. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) which runs the plant has managed to clean up one building but is still struggling to do the same with other buildings which has burnt fuel rods. These fuel rods are nothing but chunks of radioactive waste weighing hundreds of metric tonnes.


It took 2 years for TEPCO to design the robots for the job of extracting melted fuel rods and according to TEPCO’s head of decommissioning, Naohiro Masuda, the heat levels due to radiation are so extreme that it simply melts the robot’s wiring.

Japan had been trying out various methods to stop the radiations from damaging the area further. One such method was building “ice walls” to keep groundwater from reaching the reactors. A refrigerant chemical that forms an ice wall to block Fukushima’s fallout water and stop the ground water intrusion into the plant.


A million metric tonnes of irradiated water is being stored on the site and is pumped in to cool down the reactors. Disposing the radioactive water is still a challenge for TEPCO as storage tanks have already leaked some of the material into the ocean.

After TEPCO’s robots not surviving the heat levels of the radiations, it’s a place for no man or machine. Toshiba has developed new robots for picking up the fuel rods and to clean up the scene which previous robots failed to.

The entire cleanup process is expected to take around 30 to 40 years, but TEPCO is being blamed for its lukewarm response to the incident and is facing flak from the Japanese government and the people alike.

May 27, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , ,

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