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Nuclear Energy

Published on July 24th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Melted Nuclear Fuel Spotted By Robot At Fukushima For First Time

July 24th, 2017 by  

Despite the Fukushima nuclear disaster beginning all the way back in 2011, there hasn’t until now been any direct imaging of what’s happened to the nuclear fuel rods in the reactors that experienced a meltdown — owing to the extremely high radiation levels in the areas in question, which destroyed many of the robots that were sent in. Until now, that is.

New images, captured by an underwater robot on Saturday, show large amounts of what appears to be melted down nuclear fuel spread across the floor of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor.

The pictures (which can be viewed at The Guardian) aren’t ambiguous, showing clearly the enormous amount of damage that has occurred.

The Guardian provides more: “The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1m on the bottom inside 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 investigation of Unit 3 ended on Saturday.”

As one would guess, the images represent a first step towards the eventual decommissioning and cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear plant. It should be realized here that the extremely high radiation levels in the other two reactors have to date destroyed any robots that have been sent in — so, as or right now, the melted down nuclear fuel in those reactors has yet to be located.

The images referenced above should make it clear that getting the ongoing nuclear disaster under any real degree of control is going to take quite a long time, and require a lot of money and resources.

While the mainstream media has mostly been choosing not to report on Fukushima in recent times, the situation there is as non-palatable as ever — massive amounts of contaminated water continues to flow into the ocean every day, and human control and containment remains tenuous and dependent upon the input of a lot of money and resources.



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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