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    An aerial view shows the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba, Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011. (File)

    Robot May Have Finally Found Melted Nuclear Fuel at Fukushima Disaster Site

    © AFP 2019 / JIJI PRESS
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    In what is said to be a major milestone in a long-running radioactive clean-up operation, an underwater robot has recorded images of significant deposits of what is suspected to be melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of one of the damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.

    Images of large deposits of what looks to be solidified molten lava-like rock in 3-foot layers were imaged under Fukushima's #3 reactor, according to a statement from the owner of the destroyed reactor Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

    In revealing heavy damage to the reactor as a result of the core meltdown, the robot probe imaged debris mixed with destroyed reactor parts, leading technicians to suspect that what is projected to be a decades-long decommissioning process will be more difficult than initially thought.

    A TEPCO spokesman stated that additional time would be required before the company can grasp the full scope of the disaster and assemble a coherent picture of the aftermath.

    Extremely high radiation levels require that fresh water be continually pumped into the wrecked reactor to keep it cool, according to Deutsche Welle.

    Robot probes have still not uncovered melted fuel in the two other damaged reactors due to the punishing radiation levels.

    "It's natural to think that melted material flowed out from the reactor pressure vessel," a company spokesperson said Saturday.

    Three of the Fukushima plant's six reactors were destroyed in the March 2011 tsunami caused by a 9.0 earthquake some 43 miles off shore.

    Related:

    TEPCO’s Plan to Freeze Soil at Fukushima Site to Curb Contamination Failing
    TEPCO Finds Possible Nuclear Fuel Debris Under Fukushima's Reactor Number 2
    TEPCO Bungles Fukushima Cleanup as Defective Robots 'Killed' by Radiation
    Tags:
    earthquake, robot, meltdown, tsunami, radiation, nuclear, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Fukushima, Japan
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