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Another robot just broke down investigating Fukushima

Another robot just broke down investigating Fukushima thumbnail

Another robot has died in the depths of one of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, as attempts to locate and remove melted radioactive fuel continue. This is the second robot in two weeks to meet its end in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the site of a major nuclear accident caused by the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The robot’s mission was to investigate the pedestal underneath the Unit 2 nuclear reactor, where melted nuclear fuel is suspected to have fallen. But about 10 feet away from its target, one of the robot’s tank-like treads got stuck, World Nuclear News reports. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the plant, decided to cut the robot’s cable and abandon it inside the reactor. A TEPCO spokeswoman told that they don’t yet know whether radiation or debris stopped the robot.

Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel Investigation at Fukushima D…“Scorpion Robot” Obtained Additional Information from Unit 2 PCV: On February 16, the “Scorpion-shaped robot” was inserted into the Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to further investigate the conditions within. It went along the CRD rail that led to the area directly below the Reactor Pressure Vessel called the pedestal area, and obtained additional information such as the PCV interior, deposits conditions, temperature readings, and radiation levels. Even though the robot could not reach the pedestal area, which we had initially planned to investigate, valuable information was obtained which will help us determine the methods to eventually remove fuel debris. The robot was left inside the PCV not to obstruct further investigations, as an option of the original plan, since it stopped over the deposits. TEPCO Holdings will continue to review the information, such as deposits on the CRD rail and conditions inside the pedestal, obtained from this entire investigation. For more photos and information, go to

Posted by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Incorporated on 16hb Februari 2017

Two feet long and shaped like a scorpion, this robot is equipped with a camera on its front, and another camera on its tail that can whip up and look around. It also sports temperature and radiation sensors. Toshiba and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning designed the scorpion robot to scoot on caterpillar treads like a tank through pipes about four inches wide.

It’s now at least the seventh robot to have broken down while investigating Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, which remain highly radioactive. Reuters had counted up to five by March 2016. Last week, a scouting robot was sent in ahead to clear the way for the scorpion robot, but it was pulled back out after about two hours: the camera had been fried by record high levels of radiation estimated to be about 650 sieverts per hour. (For scale, a CT scan exposes you to 0.006 sieverts, and just half a sievert is enough to cause symptoms of radiation sickness.)

This is yet another setback for TEPCO, which still has not succeeded at removing the molten radioactive fuel from three of the four reactors that need to be decommissioned at Fukushima Daiichi. Still, TEPCO officials report that radiation levels measured outside the reactors are not dangerous, and the public is not at risk.

The Verge

20 Comments on "Another robot just broke down investigating Fukushima"

  1. Midnight Oil on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:23 am 

    No problem, just call Dick Cheney and have him venture in there…will add another 10 years to his artificial heart!

  2. makati1 on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:23 am 

    Nuclear, the gift that keeps on giving…lol.

  3. Hubert on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:30 am 

    Never ending nightmare.

  4. dave thompson on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:31 am 

    Clean,safe, to cheap to meter.

  5. onlooker on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:38 am 

    Anybody care for some Pacific salmon? Yummy

  6. dissident on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:43 am 

    The people who claimed it was clean and safe for conventional water cooled-moderated reactors should have been shot. Water and corium don’t work well together. The water becomes a source of hydrogen gas which helps to blow off the containment structure.

    Then we have the piling up of so-called waste which is really fuel that these crap reactor designs can’t burn.

    All such reactors should be retired and replaced with molten metal, unpressurized vat fast neutron breeder designs. Solves 99% of the “waste” problem and removes Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and basically all the conventional failure scenarios.

  7. Midnight Oil on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 6:47 am 

    Did a paper years ago and the phrase “too cheap to meter” and “clean and safe” came from the US Government to maintain any resistance to its nuclear weapons program.
    All it was Madison Avenue PR BS and they knew it.

  8. Cloggie on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 7:54 am 

    Driver-less cars don’t work nearby a molten nuclear reactor core.

    Damage caused by Fukushima: $100B so far (higher figures exist)

    Calculating the cost of wind power of $2 million per MW, we are talking the lost equivalent of 50 GW in wind power or more than 10 times the 4.7 GW power plant itself.

    The plant was #15 in the world.

    Nuclear: “too cheap to meter”.

    Much higher cost figures here:

    Refugee compensation: 60B
    Fossil fuel to compensate: 200B/year
    Reconstruction cost: 250B

    That’s more than $500B or 250 GW windpower equivalent.

    Benjamin K. Sovacool has said that, with the benefit of hindsight, the Fukushima disaster was entirely avoidable in that Japan could have chosen to exploit the country’s extensive renewable energy base. Japan has a total of “324 GW of achievable potential in the form of onshore and offshore wind turbines (222 GW), geothermal power plants (70 GW), additional hydroelectric capacity (26.5 GW), solar energy (4.8 GW) and agricultural residue (1.1 GW).”

    For the major nuclear screwup that was Fuckushima, Japan could have installed a large part of a renewable energy base.

    Japan had in 2010 282 GW installed electricity generating capacity.

  9. onlooker on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 8:01 am 

    Heard the same thing Midnight, completely consistent with the way Govts especially US does things.

  10. onlooker on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 8:07 am
    Nuclear Power and the Big Lie

  11. penury on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 9:32 am 

    While figuring cost would you like to include the sea life killed off? how about the thyroid cancers caused? The total cost of the problem is not dollars and cents but the extermination of so many species.

  12. Sissyfuss on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 9:42 am 

    But Dissy, you can’t manufacture the really cool big bombs from those type of facilities. Where’s the fun in that?

  13. Hubert on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 4:09 pm 

    These Fukers are destroying the World.

    NEW VIDEO/Fukushima/160 Tons of Melted Fuel Rods Escaped Containment Vessel

  14. peakyeast on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 4:37 pm 

    Cloggie is right on target here… There is plenty of money and resources for stupidity, but almost none for intelligent solutions…

    This is part of the reason why I do not see any future for this civilisation. There are just too many violent psychos in power to clean this mess up.

  15. Anonymous on Sun, 19th Feb 2017 5:12 pm 

    I thought robots were the future(tm), at least according to you clogged arteries. Maybe they can hire you to clean up the mess clogged? You’re not very busy these days. And when your piss starts to glow a little too much, they can build a robot nurse to shove pure iodine up your ass. So you can go back for more of course.

  16. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 20th Feb 2017 12:31 am 

    Spell same as the Trump voters.
    It is Nukyalur Power.

  17. Cloggie on Mon, 20th Feb 2017 12:36 am 

    I’d give Trump a rusty trombone if he’d let me. Rusty trombone is a speciality of the Dutch women.

  18. Antius on Mon, 20th Feb 2017 12:27 pm 

    ‘For the major nuclear screwup that was Fuckushima, Japan could have installed a large part of a renewable energy base.’

    We have been over that one too many times. It will never work, or at least it will never provide enough energy at a low enough price to maintain the sort of living standards that people in the developed world are accustomed to. That’s it unfortunately. If renewables were capable of doing what you say they can, then they would have powered the second half of the industrial revolution. New technology has brought refinements, but hasn’t changed the nature of the resource.

    Nuclear power is the future. Even if no attempt were made to contain nuclear fission products and all nuclear power stations simply spewed their products across the country side, the fatalities due to radioactive pollution would be approximately equivalent to those resulting from air pollution due to fossil fuels. Fission products are a million times more toxic than fossil fuel emissions, but are produced in one-millionth the quantity. The fact that radioactive waste remains contained within fuel (unless there is an accident) means that nuclear power cannot fail to be an improvement on fossil fuels from a health viewpoint.

    With fossil fuels facing depletion and renewable energy incapable of replacing the energy that they provided, the question is not if nuclear power should be used, but how best to do it.

  19. Seaharvester on Tue, 21st Feb 2017 12:52 pm 

    Wow – that’s what I call radiation – fatal dose in 5 seconds or less – a different animal than say the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee (jeez I could’ve taken a bath in the tritiated water in the amount that leaked from Vt Yankee and I’d be fine – alpha rays are rather close to harmless as these things go). A bit of perspective – when a reactor is running, the crawl space under the pressure vessel – which puts you just above the containment sumps – is an extremely hostile place to be – the neutron flux is fatal within seconds. (I’ve walked by this location in another reactor during shutdown & did the math out of curiosity – the area was hot even then). In a sense, Fukushima is still running in its partially melted down condition, hence a similar condition in this location.
    I myself have watched welding robots break down while working on a reactor head – electronics don’t like hot places.
    toodles –

  20. Seaharvester on Tue, 21st Feb 2017 1:21 pm 

    I just read some of the above comments and a few seem to be from what I would call people with dedicated antinuclear perspectives – so I would like to point out that Fukushima Daichi was an extremely antiquated design by today’s standards. It was, or was nearly, by my recollection, the world’s oldest functioning civilian nuclear power plant. Tepco had attempted to initiate replacement years before the tsunami, but was prevented from doing so by antinuclear opposition. Google its history. If it had been replaced, the new plant would not have had the design features that were most problematic and most responsible for the core and spent fuel pool cooling problems. It is so ironic.

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