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Inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 Robot Probe Inspections

TEPCO released three videos of its robot probe inspections inside unit 3. The videos provided some interesting information, showing some unexplained “blobs”, thick adhered substances, concrete spalling seen in fires, possible melted fuel formations, and thought to be solidified melted fuel around the lower end of a control rod.

TEPCO think the graphite gaskets sealing the control rod holes in bottom of the reactor vessel melted allowing molten fuel to flow through these holes to drip down into the reactor pedestal. Structures in the pedestal show some of the patterns created by the thick substances that appear to have splattered around the containment structures.

TEPCO cites 364 tons of fuel debris (melted fuel, internal reactor parts and control rods) to be expected at unit 3. The videos only show very small views of the damage found making it difficult to determine how much fuel debris was actually found inside unit 3’s pedestal.

 

 

 

Source : Tepco

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/library/archive-e.html?video_uuid=qf64ne97&catid=61785

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/library/archive-e.html?video_uuid=o6lm23vu&catid=61785

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/library/archive-e.html?video_uuid=u10b97j8&catid=61785

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Unit 2 Radiation Readings Revised

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TEPCO revised unit 2’s containment inspection radiation readings done earlier in 2017, claiming a set of instrument and calibration errors caused the inaccurate readings.

TEPCO claims that their camera based radiation estimates were too high due to an oversight where they forgot to reset the sensitivity threshold on the equipment that was reading camera interference.

The final claim made in the report for downgrading the radiation readings was that one of the 4 sensors was reading considerably higher than the other 3. When they took that sensor out of the readings the other 3 sensors read considerably lower.

Source : Tepco’s handout

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170727_03-e.pdf

 

 

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Likely Melted Fuel Heap Found Inside Fukushima Daiichi’s Reactor 3 Shows Future Removing Difficulties

Underwater robot finds likely melted fuel heap inside Fukushima reactor

melted fuel 23 july 2017 3This image captured by an underwater robot provided by International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning on Saturday, July 22, 2017 shows heaps of solidified lava-like rocks believed to be nuclear fuel.

 

TOKYO (AP) — Images captured by an underwater robot showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1 meter on the bottom inside of 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 probe of Unit 3 ended Saturday.

Locating and analyzing 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.

During this week’s probe, cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the destroyed plant.

TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said it would take time to analyze the debris in the images to figure out debris removal methods.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170723/p2g/00m/0dm/033000c

Melted nuke fuel images show struggle facing Fukushima plant

melted fuel 23 july 2017 2What is believed to be nuclear fuel debris has accumulated at the submerged bottom of the containment vessel in the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in an image taken on July 22. Part of the collapsed metal scaffolding is seen at back right.

 

Images captured on July 22 of solidified nuclear fuel debris at the bottom of a containment vessel of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant show the enormity of decommissioning of the facility.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it will closely study the images from the No. 3 reactor’s containment vessel to determine the spread and amount of nuclear fuel debris.

After analysis, TEPCO will decide on a policy to retrieve the fuel debris.

The government and TEPCO plan to start the retrieval process in one of the three crippled reactors at the plant from 2021.

It will be a formidable task, given that a method of recovering debris that is stuck to the floor has yet to be considered.

The recent images were taken by a submersible robot, which was sent into the containment vessel on July 19, 21 and 22.

The No. 3 reactor’s containment vessel is filled with water to a depth of 6.4 meters.

On the final day, the remote-controlled robot was dispatched to the deepest part of the containment vessel.

The images showed that pieces that fell from the structure and deposited material accumulated to a height of about 1 meters at the bottom of the containment vessel.

In particular, what is believed to be nuclear fuel debris is scattered in the form of rocks in the area directly beneath the pressure vessel.

The latest investigation has confirmed TEPCO’s assumption made through analyses that most of the reactor’s nuclear fuel melted through the pressure vessel and accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessel.

It also discovered that the nuclear fuel debris has spread throughout the containment vessel.

The images marked the first confirmation through a robot probe of a large amount of nuclear debris in any of the embattled No. 1 through No. 3 reactors.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707230012.html

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Pictures Likely Show Melted Fukushima Fuel for First Time

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New images show what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel hanging from inside one of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima reactors, a potential milestone in the cleanup of one of the worst atomic disasters in history.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest utility, released images on Friday showing a hardened black, grey and orange substance that dripped from the bottom of the No. 3 reactor pressure vessel at Fukushima, which is likely to contain melted fuel, according to Takahiro Kimoto, an official at the company. The company sent a Toshiba-designed robot, which can swim and resembles a submarine, to explore the inside of the reactor for the first time on July 19.

Never before have we taken such clear pictures of what could be melted fuel,” Kimoto said at a press briefing that began at 9 p.m. Friday in Tokyo, noting that it would take time to analyze and confirm whether it is actually fuel. “We believe that the fuel melted and mixed with the metal directly underneath it. And it is highly likely that we have filmed that on Friday.”

800x-1.pngPictures taken on July 21 inside of Fukushima reactor. Source: Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

 

If confirmed, the substance — which has the appearance of icicles — would be the first discovery of the fuel that melted during the triple reactor accident at Fukushima six years ago. For Tokyo Electric, which bears most of the clean-up costs, the discovery would help the utility design a way to remove the highly-radioactive material.

The robot, which is about 30 centimeters (12 inches) long, will search for melted fuel at the bottom of the reactor on Saturday. It is possible that the company will take more pictures of what could be melted fuel spread across the floor and lower levels, according to Tokyo Electric’s Kimoto. Fuel from a nuclear meltdown is known as corium, which is a mixture of the atomic fuel rods and other structural materials.

Early Signs

It is important to know the exact locations and the physical, chemical, radiological forms of the corium to develop the necessary engineering defueling plans for the safe removal of the radioactive materials,” said Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who was involved with the cleanup at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the U.S. “The recent investigation results are significant early signs of progress on the long road ahead.”

Because of the high radioactivity levels inside the reactor, only specially designed robots can probe the unit. And the unprecedented nature of the Fukushima disaster means that Tepco, as the utility is known, is pinning its efforts on technology not yet invented to get the melted fuel out of the reactors.

Removal Plans

The company aims to decide on the procedure to remove the melted fuel from each unit as soon as this summer. And it will confirm the procedure for the first reactor during the fiscal year ending March 2019, with fuel removal slated to begin in 2021.

Decommissioning the reactors will cost 8 trillion yen ($72 billion), according to an estimate in December from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Removing the fuel is one of the most important steps in a cleanup that may take as long as 40 years.

Similar to the latest findings on Friday, Tepco took photographs in January of what appeared to be black residue covering a grate under the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 2 reactor, which was speculated to have been melted fuel. However, a follow-up survey by another Toshiba-designed robot in February failed to confirm the location of any melted fuel in the reactor after it got stuck in debris.

A robot designed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. also failed to find any melted fuel during its probe of the No. 1 reactor in March.

The significance of Friday’s finding “might be evidence that the robots used by Tepco can now deal with the higher radiation levels, at least for periods of time that allow them to search parts of the reactor that are more likely to contain fuel debris,” M.V. Ramana, professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, said by email.

If some of these fragments can be brought out of the reactor and studied, it would allow nuclear engineers and scientists to better model what happened during the accident.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-22/japan-pictures-likely-show-melted-fukushima-fuel-for-first-time

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Highly likely fuel debris found for 1st time at Fukushima plant

21 july 2017 melted fuel #3.jpg

 

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex said Friday it found material likely to be nuclear fuel debris in its latest probe at one of the plant’s three damaged reactors.

It is the first time material “highly likely” to be melted fuel has been spotted inside a reactor at the complex since the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said.

Material found near the bottom of the damaged pressure vessel of the No. 3 reactor is likely to have been formed by fuel that melted, Takahiro Kimoto, a Tepco spokesman, said at a press conference.

“We think that the fuel inside the vessel melted and caused structures to fall from above,” Kimoto said.

Tepco is trying to confirm the condition of fuel debris inside the No. 3 reactor with a robot to start work on removing the debris in 2021, one of the most difficult stages of the decommissioning project that is expected to take at least 30 to 40 years to complete.

Decommissioning work has progressed slowly as radiation levels inside the reactors remain extremely high.

Water around 6.4 meters deep, which was injected into the reactor to cool fuel debris inside, has accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessel.

21 july 2017 melted fuel #3 2.jpg

 

Tepco used a cylinder-shaped underwater robot with a diameter of 13 centimeters, dubbed “little sunfish.”

In Friday’s probe, following one on Wednesday, the robot looked inside the reactor’s containment vessel housing the pressure vessel, which is partially filled with contaminated water.

Another round of probe is scheduled on Saturday, where the remote-controlled robot is expected to swim deeper to the bottom of the containment vessel to locate a chunk of melted fuel that is believed to lie.

On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami hit the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities.

Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1-3 units suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.

From January to March, Tepco conducted robot surveys including sending a self-propelled robot into the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors, where water levels are lower than the No. 3 reactor, but they failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.

21 july 2017 melted fuel #3 3.jpg

 

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/07/135f7551ff7d-update1-black-objects-found-hanging-in-damaged-fukushima-plant.html

 

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

“Possible” melted fuel seen for first time at Fukushima plant

“Possible” – “apparently” – “what is believed to be” – “suggesting” …
A lot of qualifiers here, and obligatory glee for our cute ‘little sunfish’, but they got one thing absolutely right in this report: they didn’t call it a ‘crippled plant’, it’s now officially the “destroyed plant”; and the most important fact or folly is buried towards the end: “to remove the melted fuel, a process expected to begin sometime after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics…
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TOKYO — An underwater robot captured images of solidified lava-like rocks Friday inside a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, spotting for the first time what is believed to be nuclear fuel that melted six years ago.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the robot found large amounts of lava-like debris apparently containing fuel that had flowed out of the core into the primary containment vessel of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima. The plant was destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the destroyed plant.
Experts have said the fuel melted and much of it fell to the chamber’s bottom and is now covered by radioactive water as deep as 6 meters (20 feet). The fuel, during meltdown, also likely melted its casing and other metal structures inside the reactor, forming rocks as it cooled.
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said it was the first time a robot camera has captured what is believed to be the melted fuel.
“That debris has apparently fallen from somewhere higher above. We believe it is highly likely to be melted fuel or something mixed with it,” Kimoto said. He said it would take time to analyze which portions of the rocks were fuel.
In an earlier survey Wednesday, the robot found severe damage in the vessel, including key structures that were broken and knocked out of place.
The robot, nicknamed “the Little Sunfish,” on Friday went inside a structure called the pedestal for a closer look. TEPCO plans to send the robot farther down on Saturday in hopes of finding more melted fuel and debris.
Experts have said the melted fuel is most likely to have landed inside the pedestal after breaching the core.
Kimoto said the robot probe in its two missions has captured a great deal of useful information and images showing the damage inside the reactor, which will help experts eventually determine a way to remove the melted fuel, a process expected to begin sometime after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s still just the beginning of the (decades-long) decommissioning. There is still a long way to go, including developing the necessary technology,” he said. “But it’s a big step forward.”
Locating and analyzing the fuel debris and damage in each of the 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.
The submersible robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with five propellers and collects data with two cameras and a dosimeter. It is controlled remotely by a group of four operators. It was co-developed by Toshiba Corp., the electronics, nuclear and energy company charged with helping clean up the plant, and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a government-funded consortium.
 
The material has smooth thick edges making it unlikely to be rust, though there are considerable areas of rust inside containment. This material also does not match any known material from previous reactor meltdowns or melted fuel (corium) research. TEPCO makes no specific mention of this substance.
20228750_1160345494071271_6129718615162848644_n.jpg
Evident inside the pedestal area is a pale colored thick substance that has adhered to solid surfaces. This same material is seen throughout the area of the containment structure inspected with a scope earlier. Now this same material is found inside the pedestal area.
Special credits to Fukushima Response Campaign & Fukuleaks

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Scaffolding at No.3 Fukushima reactor missing

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant says the metal scaffolding right below the damaged No.3 reactor appears to have gone missing after the 2011 disaster.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, started a full-scale robotic probe into the containment vessel on Wednesday.
 
In the 2011 accident, most of the nuclear fuel in the No.3 reactor is believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel that covers the reactor. The nuclear fuel is thought to lie within 6-meter-deep water that was injected for cooling.
 
TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to remove the nuclear fuel debris as part of decommissioning of the reactor. They are trying to locate the debris.
 
They used a new underwater robot equipped with cameras for Wednesday’s probe. It is 30 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide.
 

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Underwater Robot Probe of Reactor 3 Begins

Underwater robot probe inside Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor begins
 
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began on Wednesday probing inside a contaminated water-filled reactor containment vessel at one of its units using an underwater robot.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant operator, is hoping to discover the precise location and condition of melted fuel debris inside the No. 3 reactor, one of the three units which suffered meltdowns in the 2011 nuclear crisis following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
 
On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami hit the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1-3 units suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.
 
Six years after the disaster, the condition of nuclear debris remains unknown as radiation levels inside the reactors are still extremely high.
 
Since the water levels inside the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor are higher than those of other reactors, the utility, known as Tepco, sent in an underwater robot equipped with a camera.
 
The robot entered the structure around 6:30 a.m. through a pipe connected to the containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, according to Tepco.
 
The remote-controlled robot, attached to cables, then headed to the area just below the reactor pressure vessel and tried to capture images there.
 
Based on the outcome of Wednesday’s probe, the robot will travel on Friday as far as to the bottom of the containment vessel, where the deposits of melted fuel debris are believed to have accumulated.
 
Tepco said about 6.4 meters of water — injected into the structure to cool the fuel — has accumulated in the bottom of the containment vessel.
 
From January to March, Tepco conducted robot surveys including sending a self-propelled robot into the Nos. 1-2 reactors, where water levels are lower than the No. 3 reactor, but they failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.
 
 
 
 
Swimming Robot Captures Underwater Images of Damaged Fukushima Nuclear Reactor
 
(TOKYO) — An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.
 
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the robot, nicknamed “the Little Sunfish,” successfully completed the day’s work inside the primary containment vessel of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima, which was destroyed by a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto praised the work, saying the robot captured views of the underwater damage that had not been previously seen. However, the images contained no obvious sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers hope to locate, he said.
 
The robot was left inside the reactor near a structure called the pedestal, and is expected to go deeper inside for a fuller investigation Friday in hopes of finding the melted fuel.
 
“The damage to the structures was caused by the melted fuel or its heat,” Kimoto told a late-night news conference held nine hours after the probe ended its exploration earlier in the day.
 
The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with five propellers and collects data with two cameras and a dosimeter. It is controlled remotely by a group of four operators.
 
The robot was co-developed by Toshiba Corp., the electronics and energy company charged with helping clean up the plant, and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a government-funded consortium.
 
It was on a mission to study the damage and find the fuel that experts say has melted, breached the core and mostly fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, where it has been submerged by highly radioactive water as deep as 6 meters (20 feet).
 
The robot discovered that a grate platform that is supposed to be below the reactor core was missing and apparently was knocked down by melted fuel and other materials that fell from above, and that parts of a safety system called a control rod drive were also missing.
 
Remote-controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning of the damaged plant, but super-high levels of radiation and structural damage have hampered earlier probes at two other reactors at the plant.
 
Japanese officials say they want to determine preliminary methods for removing the melted nuclear fuel this summer and start work in 2021.
 
Scientists need to know the fuel’s exact location and understand the structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the safest and most efficient ways to remove the fuel.
 
Robots tested earlier became stuck inside the two other reactors. A scorpion-shaped robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. A snake-shaped robot designed to clear debris for the scorpion probe was removed after two hours when its cameras failed due to radiation levels five times higher than anticipated.
 
The robot used Wednesday was designed to tolerate radiation of up to 200 sieverts — a level that can kill humans instantly.
 
Kimoto said the robot showed that the Unit 3 reactor chamber was “clearly more severely damaged” than Unit 2, which was explored by the scorpion probe.
 

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Underwater Robot Begins Probing Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 3 reactor

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This image captured by an underwater robot provided by International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning shows a part of a control rod drive of Unit 3 at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma town, northeastern Japan Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The underwater robot has captured images and other data inside Japan’s crippled nuclear plant on its first day of work. The robot is on a mission to study damage and find fuel that experts say has melted and mostly fallen to the bottom of a chamber and has been submerged by highly radioactive water.
Swimming robot probes Fukushima reactor to find melted fuel

TOKYO — An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the robot, nicknamed “the Little Sunfish,” successfully completed the day’s work inside the primary containment vessel of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima, which was destroyed by a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto praised the work, saying the robot captured views of the underwater damage that had not been previously seen. However, the images contained no obvious sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers hope to locate, he said.
The robot was left inside the reactor near a structure called the pedestal, and is expected to go deeper inside for a fuller investigation Friday in hopes of finding the melted fuel.
“The damage to the structures was caused by the melted fuel or its heat,” Kimoto told a late-night news conference held nine hours after the probe ended its exploration earlier in the day.
The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with five propellers and collects data with two cameras and a dosimeter. It is controlled remotely by a group of four operators.
The robot was co-developed by Toshiba Corp., the electronics and energy company charged with helping clean up the plant, and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a government-funded consortium.
It was on a mission to study the damage and find the fuel that experts say has melted, breached the core and mostly fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, where it has been submerged by highly radioactive water as deep as 6 meters (20 feet).
The robot discovered that a grate platform that is supposed to be below the reactor core was missing and apparently was knocked down by melted fuel and other materials that fell from above, and that parts of a safety system called a control rod drive were also missing.
Remote-controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning of the damaged plant, but super-high levels of radiation and structural damage have hampered earlier probes at two other reactors at the plant.
Japanese officials say they want to determine preliminary methods for removing the melted nuclear fuel this summer and start work in 2021.
Scientists need to know the fuel’s exact location and understand the structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the safest and most efficient ways to remove the fuel.
Robots tested earlier became stuck inside the two other reactors. A scorpion-shaped robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. A snake-shaped robot designed to clear debris for the scorpion probe was removed after two hours when its cameras failed due to radiation levels five times higher than anticipated.
The robot used Wednesday was designed to tolerate radiation of up to 200 sieverts — a level that can kill humans instantly.
Kimoto said the robot showed that the Unit 3 reactor chamber was “clearly more severely damaged” than Unit 2, which was explored by the scorpion probe.
Underwater robot probe inside Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor begins
TOKYO — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began on Wednesday probing inside a contaminated water-filled reactor containment vessel at one of its units using an underwater robot.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant operator, is hoping to discover the precise location and condition of melted fuel debris inside the No. 3 reactor, one of the three units which suffered meltdowns in the 2011 nuclear crisis following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami hit the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1-3 units suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.
Six years after the disaster, the condition of nuclear debris remains unknown as radiation levels inside the reactors are still extremely high.
Since the water levels inside the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor are higher than those of other reactors, the utility, known as Tepco, sent in an underwater robot equipped with a camera.
The robot entered the structure around 6:30 a.m. through a pipe connected to the containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, according to Tepco.
The remote-controlled robot, attached to cables, then headed to the area just below the reactor pressure vessel and tried to capture images there.
Based on the outcome of Wednesday’s probe, the robot will travel on Friday as far as to the bottom of the containment vessel, where the deposits of melted fuel debris are believed to have accumulated.
Tepco said about 6.4 meters of water — injected into the structure to cool the fuel — has accumulated in the bottom of the containment vessel.
From January to March, Tepco conducted robot surveys including sending a self-propelled robot into the Nos. 1-2 reactors, where water levels are lower than the No. 3 reactor, but they failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.
july 20 2017 reactor 3 probe
Scaffolding at No.3 Fukushima reactor missing
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant says the metal scaffolding right below the damaged No.3 reactor appears to have gone missing after the 2011 disaster.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, started a full-scale robotic probe into the containment vessel on Wednesday.
 
In the 2011 accident, most of the nuclear fuel in the No.3 reactor is believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel that covers the reactor. The nuclear fuel is thought to lie within 6-meter-deep water that was injected for cooling.
 
TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to remove the nuclear fuel debris as part of decommissioning of the reactor. They are trying to locate the debris.
 
They used a new underwater robot equipped with cameras for Wednesday’s probe. It is 30 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide.
 
The robot was unable to obtain an image of the metal grating which was right below the reactor before the disaster.
 
TEPCO officials say the grating apparently fell along with the molten fuel.
 
They told reporters that they could not determine where the nuclear fuel debris is. But they said they could identify a path that might lead to areas where the debris is believed to lie.

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Submersible robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect the damaged primary containment vessel (PCV) of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3

Swimming robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect crippled Fukushima plant

 

Japan has unveiled a small swimming robot that will inspect the damage at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The device weights 2kg, is 13cm in diameter and will be able to swim deep into the melted reactor, its developers say.

The Japan-based International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) unveiled the robot, dubbed ‘mini manbo’ (little sunfish) in the media, together with Toshiba group on Thursday.

The robot “is small enough and resilient enough to enter and inspect the damaged primary containment vessel [PCV] of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 3,” a statement from the IRID said, adding that the device will be deployed this summer.  

swimming robot 15 june 2017.jpg

 

The device is equipped with two cameras and can be remotely controlled via a wire, while operators can record its progress through the coolant. ‘Little sunfish’ will deliver a video feed that “will clarify damage to the PCV interior and information on how best to retrieve fuel debris,” the IRID added.

The major advantage of the robot is that it “can avoid various obstacles,” Tsutomu Takeuchi, a senior manager at the nuclear energy division of Toshiba, told AP. The company is tasked with helping to clean up the damaged plant.

The device was created for inspection of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Unit 3 of the crippled plant. Unit 3 was flooded with coolant to a depth of about 6 meters (20ft) and in order to make a proper clean-up, such a coolant must be located and mapped, according to the IRID.

The penetration hole giving access to the PCV is only 14cm in diameter, limiting the size of any robot that can be deployed,” the IRID added.

Thus, the newly-presented robot seems ideal for the job. 

The robot’s radiation resistance is approximately 200 Sievert (Sv), according to its characteristics. For comparison, an exposure of about 1 sievert can cause biological damage to living tissue, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

Scientists developed ‘mini manbo’ with the aim of operating in a highly radioactive environment,” Goro Yanase, general manager of Toshiba’s Nuclear Energy Systems & Services Division, said.

We succeeded in developing a small robot with high-level radiation resistance, and through its deployment we expect to get information that will support the advance of decommissioning,” he added.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in the USSR in 1986.

Japanese authorities have repeatedly sent robots to inspect the contained area of the crippled plant but the devices either broke down or the missions were aborted. In February, such an attempt ended in failure as a clean-up robot stopped working two hours after it was sent to the inactive Reactor 2 at the nuclear complex.

Following the failure, Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning, said that more creativity was needed to produce robots that can find and assess the condition of melted fuel rods at the high-level radiation site. 

https://www.rt.com/news/392441-japan-underwater-robot-fukushima/

 

Toshiba unveils submersible video robot to probe reactor 3 at Fukushima No. 1 plant

 

YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA PREF. – Toshiba Corp. unveiled on Thursday a submersible robot to take live video of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant to confirm whether fuel debris is sitting at the bottom of a pool of radioactive water inside.

The location and condition of the fuel in the three reactors hit by core meltdowns is critical information for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which runs the plant. Removing the fuel debris is considered the most difficult part of decommissioning the complex.

Unit 3 has the highest level of water inside at 6 meters. The fuel debris inside is presumed to have melted through its pressure vessel and settled at the bottom of its primary containment vessel.

Until today, no one has seen the situation inside reactor 3,” said Tsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department.

If we can observe the situation inside the reactor, that would be a huge leap in our ongoing effort to extract the debris” and eventually shut down the wrecked plant, he said during a demonstration of the robot at the Port and Airport Research Institute in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Co-developed with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, the cylindrical 30-cm robot, dubbed the “mini manbo” (miniature sunfish), has a camera that can move 180 degrees vertically on its front and a fixed camera on its rear, allowing it to crawl through the water while capturing images.

Tepco plans to send the remotely controlled robot into the reactor as early as mid-July. A camera inserted into the reactor in October 2015 was unable to reach the bottom of the containment vessel.

No probe has been able to confirm the location or condition of the nuclear debris in any of the three crippled reactors.

Tepco sent a scorpion-shaped robot developed by Toshiba and the institute into reactor 2 in February, but it broke down before reaching its target under the pressure vessel after a tire got stuck.

In March, Tepco’s five-day robot-based investigation failed to capture an image of what was thought to be fuel debris in reactor 1.

A separate Tepco probe in January found black lumps in reactor 2’s pressure vessel but couldn’t immediately confirm they were fuel.

In December, the government estimated that the total cost of the Fukushima disaster would reach ¥21.5 trillion, including ¥8 trillion for decommissioning. That was almost doubled the initial estimate of ¥11 trillion.

Takeuchi of Toshiba did not reveal how much it cost to develop mini manbo.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/national/toshiba-unveils-submersible-video-robot-probe-reactor-3-fukushima-no-1-plant/#.WUK8RTdpzrc

n-robot-a-20170616.jpgTsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department, shows off a robot it claims can probe water-filled reactor 3 at the defunct Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

 

Swimming and wriggling robots unveiled for Fukushima clean-up

University and industry scientists have demonstrated new robots specialised for moving through and searching scenes of destruction that are impossible or dangerous for humans to enter.

Hardy, agile, remote-controlled robots will be vital for the decommissioning of power plants, particularly in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a meltdown in 2011 following a devastating tsunami and earthquake.

Robots can spend hours or days in environments so highly radioactive that a human worker would be killed in seconds.

The Japanese government hopes to start the challenging task of removing hundreds of tonnes of melted fuel after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, potentially beginning work in 2021. For this to be possible, engineers need to know the exact location of the fuel, and understand the extent of the structural damage to the reactors.

Among other efforts, a snake-like robot was used in 2011 to explore the reactors, but was trapped repeatedly by obstacles and its camera was blocked. A “scorpion” inspired crawling robot also failed to navigate the site and was abandoned inside.

Years later, a new version of the snake-like robot has been revealed by Japanese scientists, including a team from Tohoku University in Sendai: a region severely affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

The robot stretches to eight metres in length, has a camera attached to the front and can move at speeds of up to 10cm per second.

It wriggles in a serpentine motion, propelled by the vibrations of the brush-like hairs that cover its body. Unlike any other robot, it can also “rear” its tip like the head of a snake, shooting a small jet of air to lift it. This allows it to climb over obstacles – such as debris in a disaster zone – up to 20cm in height.

According to Professor Satoshi Tadokoro of Tohoku University, the robot could search for people trapped in collapsed homes following earthquakes, and test the structural safety of damaged buildings. The researchers hope to have it ready to assist in search and rescue operations and other tasks within three years of durability testing.

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Meanwhile, an alternative disaster relief robot has been unveiled by Toshiba and the public International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. This swimming robot is the size of a loaf of bread is and fitted with lights, camera and tail propellers.

It is designed specifically to inspect meltdown damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and will enter the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 this summer to locate melted fuel in radioactive water.

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2017/06/swimming-and-wriggling-robots-unveiled-for-fukushima-clean-up/

 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Submersible Crawling Robot to Examine Interior of Fukushima Daiichi-3 PCV before Fuel Debris Is Removed

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On May 25, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) released a status report on the ongoing decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, which suffered a tsunami-caused meltdown in March 2011.

Starting two months ago, in March, a self-propelled robot has been used to investigate the interior of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Unit 1 at Fukushima Daiichi—a necessary step before fuel debris can be removed. As of April 6, the robot had sampled deposits twice.

Fluorescent X-ray spectroscopy has now confirmed the presence of elements that had originally existed in the PCV, such as iron and nickel within the reactor core internals, stainless steel in the heat-insulating materials, zinc in the paint, and lead in the shielding materials.

Although uranium was confirmed as the primary radioactive nuclide within Unit 1, it is not necessarily part of the fuel debris there, given that that element exists naturally. TEPCO said that it would carry out more detailed analyses to confirm the uranium’s source.

As the water level in the PCV of Unit 3 is higher than that in Units 1 and 2, its so-called “X-6 penetration”—which would give easier access to the inside of the pedestal (under the reactor pressure vessel)—is submerged. TEPCO plans to investigate the interior of that unit’s PCV at an undetermined date this summer using a submersible robot that can both crawl and swim. Earlier this month, the power utility began taking measurements using muon observation technology to determine the location of fuel debris.

Under the “Mid-and-Long-Term Roadmap” toward decommissioning, TEPCO will determine policies on fuel debris removal at each Fukushima Daiichi unit this summer. According to its May 22 report to an expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the power company has already made investigations to determine general conditions inside the individual PCVs.

TEPCO will continue to focus on gathering information during the current fiscal year (ended March 31, 2018), including that on the forms and distribution of fuel debris—necessary to determine the means to remove it—and safety measures for the actual removal work.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/submersible-crawling-robot-to-examine-interior-of-fukushima-daiichi-3-pcv-before-fuel-debris-is-removed/

 

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO fails to pinpoint melted fuel at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant

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A photo capturing contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was taken by a robot on March 21, 2017.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) failed to locate melted nuclear fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in a robot probe, though it found higher levels of radiation toward the bottom of the reactor container vessel, the utility said on March 27.

TEPCO made the announcement after analyzing data obtained from a probe conducted from March 18 through 22, in which a remotely controlled robot was sent into the No. 1 reactor’s container vessel for research.

The power company is set to finalize a decision to take out melted fuel from the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors as early as this coming summer, accelerating work to decommission the facilities. Like a similar robot probe inside the No. 2 reactor last month, however, the latest survey on the No. 1 reactor also failed to obtain data necessary to extract melted fuel, such as where the fuel is located. Therefore, the utility is compelled to consider fetching melted fuel in the absence of sufficient data.

TEPCO injected a robot that can move on a running belt into the container vessel of the No. 1 reactor. The robot hung a wire holding a camera and a dosimeter at its tip from a metal grating for workers and measured the condition of the contaminated water below. From March 18 to 22, the robot examined an area near a slot from which the device is injected into the vessel and measured 1.5 to 11 sieverts per hour of radiation. Between March 20 and 22, the robot explored an area around the openings for workers at the bottom of the container vessel, which is close where melted fuel is believed to be situated, and detected measurements of 3 to 9.4 sieverts of radiation.

Sand-like sediment was found to be spreading across the bottom of the container vessel. Because of accumulated sediment near the openings, the robot could gauge radiation doses only up to a height of 90 centimeters from the bottom of the vessel. Compared to the radiation levels at the same height of an area where melted fuel is believed not to exist, the area near the openings showed higher radiation readings.

It is believed that most of the melted fuel at the No. 1 reactor has spread across the contaminated water accumulating at the bottom of its container vessel. TEPCO believes that melted fuel is likely leaking from those openings.

Naohiro Masuda, head of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., told a press conference on March 7, “The results of this probe will be precious resources for us to make a decision on our plan.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170328/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

28 03 2017.jpg

 

 

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

New video from Fukushima Daiichi

 

New video from inside a crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor shows possible melted fuel.

http://www.ntv.co.jp/englishnews/society/new_video_from_fukushima_daiichi/

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The Robot Probe Cannot Confirm Where is the Melted Fuel of Unit 1

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Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on February 23 that it had completed a robot probe survey lasting five days in the reactor containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Unit 1.

Its goal was to confirm the whereabout of the melted nuclear fuel, but it was blocked by piping and could not put the camera in athe place where nuclear fuel could be seen.

Information necessary for taking out the nuclear fuel to decommission the reactor remains inadequate, and some voices began to question the robot conducted investigation method.

During the 5-day survey, there was also a point where the measuring instrument with an camera and a radiation dosimeter integrated together was hung up in a range from 0 to 3 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel, pipes and debris blocking its path in many points. The radiation dose in the water is from 3.0 to 11 Sv. Per hour. It was not possible to directly check the melted nuclear fuel.

TEPCO and the country are facing the decommissioning of a furnace …

http://www.asahi.com/articles/photo/AS20170323005483.html

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco robot failed to capture images of melted fuel in reactor 1

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A photo taken by a robot on Wednesday shows an underwater image of water pool on the bottom of the containment vessel of the reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant

Tokyo Electric said Thursday that it failed to get any photos of potential fuel debris during a five-day probe of the primary containment vessel at reactor 1 of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., however, stressed that the investigation was worthwhile because its robot was able to take underwater images in the pool of water at its bottom and gauge its radiation level, which will help it estimate where the melted fuel lies.

The monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011, tipped reactors 1, 2 and 3 into core meltdowns. The molten fuel rods then penetrated their pressure vessels before apparently dropping to the bottom of the giant containment vessels.

There is about a 2.5-meter deep water pool at the bottom of the primary containment vessel of reactor 1, and Tepco believes most of its melted fuel rods fell into it. Thus the main mission of the robot investigation this time was to capture underwater images.

The robot traversed gratings set up several meters above the vessel’s bottom and lowered a wire with a camera and dosimeter on its tip at 10 locations in the water.

Yet none of the images disclosed by Tepco showed anything resembling fuel debris, while parts of machinery, such as a valve, were captured.

When the robot dangled the camera on spots where Tepco thought there was a higher probability of locating the fuel, it instead found a 90-cm pile of sediment.

Tepco spokesman Yuichi Okamura said the sediment is probably not fuel debris, given the relatively low radiation readings, which ranged from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour.

Although the readings indicate extreme danger to people, Okamura said the readings would have been much higher had they been melted fuel rods. He said Tepco had no idea what the sediment is but added that there was a possibility it was covering the fuel.

According to Okamura, radiation readings get weaker by a hundredth if blocked by a meter of water. Since the robot detected readings from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour about 90 cm above the pool’s bottom, there might be something down there emitting strong radiation.

Tepco plans another investigation this month to pick up samples of the sediment.

While no fuel debris was recognized, Okamura said Tepco would review the data and analyze it further. By comparing radiation readings from various locations, the utility might be able to roughly pinpoint where the melted rods lay, he said.

He added that it was an achievement that the robot lasted for five days in the deadly radiation and that Tepco was able to retrieve it.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/24/national/tepco-robot-failed-capture-images-melted-fuel-reactor-1/#.WNQ_hBh7Sis

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment