via Science Alert / January 19, 2016 /

It’s been almost five years since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, but the scale of the emergency means Japan is still at the relative beginning of efforts to clean up and contain the radioactive site.

So this week Toshiba unveiled (above) a remote-control robot that’s expected to remove fuel-rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool in the plant’s reactor 3 building, according to a report by Kazuaki Nagata at The Japan Times.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the Japanese utility that maintains the site, has acknowledged that the high level of radiation in the reactor 3 building means it’s impossible for humans to safely remove the fuel-rod assemblies. Because of this, a device like the robotic crane – which you can see in action in the video below – is necessary.

Specially designed by Toshiba – the original supplier of Fukushima’s reactor 3 and reactor 5 decades ago – the machine features robotic arms that can be used to manipulate and dismantle debris, and to retrieve rods from the reactor cooling pool.

It will be lowered into the pool by a crane, and controlled by human operators working at a safe distance. It’s fitted out with numerous cameras that let the robot’s operators see its immediate surroundings.

The work, which is expected to begin next year, is a big endeavour, with 566 fuel-rod assemblies that need to be removed from just this one reactor. In 2014, Tepco successfully removed 1,535 spent fuel-rod assemblies from the pool in the reactor 4 building. While that number was higher, the task was also significantly easier, as lower radiation levels meant human workers could oversee the retrievals more closely. In reactor 3, that’s not an option.

Efforts to clean up Fukushima, which is considered the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, are under continued scrutiny after a series of blunders and Tepco’s admission that efforts in the short term to contain contamination may take as long as 30–40 years.

Of major concern is the leakage of water from the site, with signs of Fukushima contaminants having been discovered as far away as the west coast of the US – literally an entire ocean away from the disaster.

Within Japan, there are fears of ongoing health problems related to the accident, with researchers linking higher incidence of children’s cancer to Fukushima radiation, the impact of which has also been seen on animals in the wild.

SOURCE: Science Alert

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By Broc West| 2 Comments | Featured, News, Video

2 comments

  1. It’s time to swallow your pride. Don’t wait 10 years from now and apologize for the mistakes you have and are making everyday to your people and the people around the globe. You are destroying our planet and the life on it. The radioactive material isnt diluting but spreading out and collecting in pockets on the ocean floor and on the ground. It has started to accumalate already. The ripple effect is takin place now. The micro-organisms that feed the pacific ocean are dead or dying. What feeds on them gets their radiation along with the radiation they already accumalated. If the offspring survive it real probably be mutated. Sea birds are starving. What feeds on the birds are starving. Your country should be banned nuclear power until you fix this. The United States government cant tell the people on the west coast how bad the radiation is or going to be. The massive population shift would throw our country into turmoil. They would rather lie instead of saving their lives. Your gag order is proof that you are lying to the Japanese people and the world. Next time you look at your children or someone elses children imagine their kids being born with 4 legs, one eye or three, no arns and legs, no eyes or perhaps no brain. How about pets. Dont turn away, you be man enough to look in their eyes and tell them you are the one who caused this horrible, irreversible sickness on our once beautiful planet. P.S. Why in the world would you store thousands of bags of radioactive material by the ocean. Are you hoping for another tsunami to wash it into the ocean. Your government has no shame and the people of Japan have no balls. God help us all survive!

  2. Get it off your chest now, Bev. Just tell it like it is.
    Sad part is, same stuff going to happen again, where is the big question.
    Japan population went down 1 Million last 5 yrs, how many can be linked to Fukushima?
    Another sad part of the $$$ over safety is “Japan is still at the relative beginning of efforts to clean up and contain the radioactive site.”

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