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TEPCO and Japanese govt hope to portray Fukushima nuclear clean-up as a success, as robots find molten fuel.

Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Reactors’ Melted Uranium The Japanese government and companies used radiation-hardened machines to search for the fuel that escaped the plant’s ruined reactorsNY Times 19 Nov 17 “……As officials became more confident about managing the disaster, they began a search for the missing fuel. Scientists and engineers built radiation-resistant robots like the Manbo and a device like a huge X-ray machine that uses exotic space particles called muons to see the reactors’ innards.

Now that engineers say they have found the fuel, officials of the government and the utility that runs the plant hope to sway public opinion. Six and a half years after the accident spewed radiation over northern Japan, and at one point seemed to endanger Tokyo, the officials hope to persuade a skeptical world that the plant has moved out of post-disaster crisis mode and into something much less threatening: cleanup……..

Tepco is keen to portray the plant as one big industrial cleanup site. About 7,000 people work here, building new water storage tanks, moving radioactive debris to a new disposal site, and erecting enormous scaffoldings over reactor buildings torn apart by the huge hydrogen explosions that occurred during the accident…….

The government admits that cleaning up the plant will take at least another three to four decades and tens of billions of dollars. A $100 million research center has been built nearby to help scientists and engineers develop a new generation of robots to enter the reactor buildings and scoop up the melted fuel.

At Chernobyl, the Soviets simply entombed the charred reactor in concrete after the deadly 1986 accident. But Japan has pledged to dismantle the Fukushima plant and decontaminate the surrounding countryside, which was home to about 160,000 people who were evacuated after accident.

Many of them have been allowed to return as the rural towns around the plant have been decontaminated. But without at least starting a cleanup of the plant itself, officials admit they will find it difficult to convince the public that the accident is truly over.

They also hope that beginning the cleanup will help them win the public’s consent to restart Japan’s undamaged nuclear plants, most of which remain shut down since the disaster……..

Engineers are developing the new radiation-resistant robots at the Naraha Remote Technology Development Center. It includes a hangar-sized building to hold full-scale mock-ups of the plant and a virtual-reality room that simulates the interiors of the reactor buildings, including locations of known debris.

“I’ve been a robotic engineer for 30 years, and we’ve never faced anything as hard as this,” said Shinji Kawatsuma, director of research and development at the center. “This is a divine mission for Japan’s robot engineers.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/19/science/japan-fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-fuel.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&smtyp=cur

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November 19, 2017 - Posted by | Fukushima continuing

1 Comment »

  1. This article from the New York Times and the Gizmodo article a few days after are both twisting the facts, misleading the people to believe that the clean-up is progressing, which is false. Tepco got some footage in July of what they assumed to be some remains of melted fuel, very little actually, meaning that most of the melted fuel has not been located and since July that situation has not changed.

    Comment by dunrenard | November 20, 2017 | Reply


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