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Underwater robot to probe damage at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant

Swimming robot to probe damage at Japan nuclear plant, abc news, By MARI YAMAGUCHI, ASSOCIATED PRESS  YOKOSUKA, Japan — Jun 15, 2017, A Japanese industrial group unveiled Thursday a robot designed for underwater probes of damage from meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Remote controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning process for the plant. But super-high radiation and structural damage inside the reactors hampered earlier attempts to inspect areas close to the reactors’ cores.

The developers say they plan to send the new “mini manbo,” or “little sunfish,” probe into the primary containment vessel of Unit 3 at Fukushima in July to study the extent of damage and locate parts of melted fuel thought to have fallen to the bottom of the chamber, submerged by highly radioactive water.

The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with tail propellers and collects data using two cameras and a dosimeter…….

Japan hopes to locate and start removing fuel from the reactors after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Snake and scorpion-shaped robots tested earlier became stuck inside two reactors. The scorpion robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. The other, designed to clear debris for the “scorpion” probe, was called back after two hours when two of its cameras stopped working after its total radiation exposure reached 1,000 Sievert — a level that would kill a human within seconds. The plan had been to use the robot for 10 hours at an exposure level of 100 Sievert per hour.

The swimming robot was co-developed Toshiba and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, or IRID, a government-funded consortium……

IRID director Hirotsugu Fujiwara said the biggest challenge is to figure out how to remove melted debris. He’s keen to finally see conditions inside Unit 3. “I feel we are finally at the starting line of decommissioning,” he said.

Scientists need to know the melted nuclear fuel’s exact location and understand structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the optimum, safest way to remove the fuel……

TEPCO is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is now expected to cost 8 trillion yen ($70 billion), four times an earlier estimate. Part of that cost will be included in Japanese utility bills.

The 2011 meltdown forced tens of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Many are still unable to return due to high radiation levels. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/swimming-robot-probe-damage-japan-nuclear-plant-48050128

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June 16, 2017 - Posted by | Fukushima continuing

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