10:53 GMT +325 March 2017
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    Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, receive briefing from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees (in blue) in front of the No. 1 (L) and No.2 reactor buildings at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 10, 2016.

    Robot Successfully Reports Killer Radiation Levels Inside Fukushima Reactor

    © REUTERS/ Toru Hanai/File Photo
    Asia & Pacific
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    Tokyo Electric on Sunday confirmed lethally high radiation levels inside the primary containment vessel (PCV) of the heavily damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    A magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 resulted in the meltdown of three of Fukushima's six reactors. The disaster in Japan left around 19,000 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless. In the largest nuclear incident since Chernobyl, radiation levels were so high that every robot sent to explore the site has failed.

    Finally, on Saturday the PMORPH robot inserted into unit 1 in the first of a series of four missions into the PCV basement area managed to provide the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) with the radiation and temperature measurements within it.

    Devices on the camera-equipped robot measured radiation levels of 7.8 sieverts per hour on a metal stage for workers and 1.5 sieverts per hour in water pooled at the bottom. The figures are significantly lower than the 210 sieverts per hour measured at one spot in the PVC of the No. 2 reactor last month, but are still extremely high.

    The four-day inspection launched by Tepco, the owner and operator of the now-defunct Fukushima-1 nuclear plant, is part of preparatory work for the eventual removal of fuel debris. The primary mission of the robot is to investigate the bottom of the containment vessel to see whether it can capture images of the melted fuel. Finding the exact location and condition of the melted fuel is considered critically important to dismantling the reactors.

    In photos provided to the media, a valve and a pipe in cooling water at the bottom of the containment vessel is shown covered in a yellowish substance that the utility said could be rust. Another photo shows the grating that the robot, which is attached to a cable, was traveling on.

    Tepco said the robot can withstand up to 1,000 sieverts before malfunctioning. It traveled about 5 meters on Saturday and will eventually make its way to the other side of the concrete structure through a space that runs beneath the pressure vessel, which houses the core.

    The process of decommissioning the nuclear plant is expected to take at least 40 years, and cannot begin before a full assessment of the damage is complete.    

    Related:

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    • Alan Reid
      The continued use of this "The process of decommissioning the nuclear plant is expected to take at least 40 years" is showing the lack of any real understanding of ANY of the serious things evolving at Fukushima. Until a clear picture of what has gone on and where every gram of fuel is located AND a method of removal,storage of that material can a time frame of any decommissioning process be even hinted at. Right now nothing is known about any of the fuel that was once in those four reactors. So as a result nothing of the timeline of decommissioning can be truthfully estimated. Six years have passed in Fukushima's case and 36 years has passed in the case of Chernobyl and in both cases nothing has ever been done to remove fuel from either disaster site. Nobody knows a single thing about how to decommission a melted down reactor, Not knowing how to do it precludes any 40 year statement.
    • avatar
      cbtrustno1
      First thing wrong is Tepco is reporting the results. Why would you trust the people who created the most catastrophic disaster in history to tell the truth. This is just propaganda to make people think the disaster is under control, especially with Fukushima hosting some of the 2020 Olympics. I've worked in the Nuclear Industry for over 30 years. There is no survey instrumentation that can operate in a full reactor core meltdown environment. Mission Impossible.
    • NATOisEVIL
      How many nuclear reactors are there, standing on a fault line in the world? Fukushima was just a catastrophe waiting to happen. What does this disaster really means for the oceans?
    • avatar
      cbtrustno1
      NatoisEvil (the UNisEviltoo), the Pacific Ocean is all but dead and what does manage to stay alive, I would not feed to my enemies. Beware. In the Nuclear Industry we would say "Dilution is the Solution." All it means is, the same amount of the source, in a larger area. It's still poison.
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