Fukushima


Tepco to deploy robot for first contact with melted fuel from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster

The Japan Times

The owner of the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 power plant is trying this week to touch melted fuel at the bottom of the plant for the first time since the disaster almost eight years ago, a tiny but key step toward retrieving the radioactive material amid a ¥21.5 trillion ($195 billion) cleanup effort. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. will on Wednesday insert a robot developed by Toshiba Corp. to make contact with material believed to contain melted fuel inside the containment vessel of the unit 2 reactor, one of three units that melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. "We plan to confirm if we can move or lift the debris or if it crumbles," Joji Hara, a spokesman for Tepco said by phone Friday. Tepco doesn't plan to collect samples during the survey. The country is seeking to clean up the Fukushima disaster, the world's worst atomic accident since Chernobyl, which prompted a mass shutdown of its reactors.


Toshiba unveils robot with tongs to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel

The Japan Times

YOKOHAMA - Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel. The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside reactor 2's primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE. An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown. Toshiba's energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.


Toshiba unveils robot to probe melted Fukushima nuclear...

Daily Mail

Toshiba unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel. The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside the Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE. An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown. Toshiba unveiled the device carrying tongs that comes out of a long telescopic pipe for an internal probe in one of three damaged reactor chambers at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant - this time to touch chunks of melted fuel Toshiba's energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.


Toshiba Unveils Robot to Probe Melted Fukushima Nuclear Fuel

U.S. News

Toshiba Corp. has unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and manipulate chunks of melted fuel.


Japan's first drone document delivery operation launched in Fukushima amid labor shortage

The Japan Times

FUKUSHIMA – Japan Post Co. on Wednesday began transporting documents by drone in Fukushima Prefecture, the first operation of its kind in Japan, following easing of regulations to cope with labor shortages in the transport industry. The company said it will initially use drones to carry its own documents and advertisements between two post offices in the northeastern prefecture to examine whether the unmanned aircraft can be used to carry mail. In the future, it hopes to use drones for deliveries to mountainous regions and remote islands. It launched the operation after the government eased related regulations in September. Prior to easing restrictions, an operator was required to keep the drone in view.


Disaster relief tech: Hand-shaped robot and cybersuit for rescue dogs tested in Fukushima

The Japan Times

The Friday event was hosted by the Cabinet Office and others. The hand-shaped robot, developed by Tohoku University, has fingers consisting of small ball-like parts, operated through wires running through its length. The robot, which features enhanced fire resistance, is expected to be useful in the event of a plant fire, according to the university. At the test event Friday, the robot removed gas cylinders and rubble from a fire. The cybersuit, developed by the university and others, is equipped with a camera and a GPS device.


Japan Post to begin test deliveries using drones in Fukushima next month

The Japan Times

Japan Post Co. has said that it will start test deliveries using a drone between post offices in Fukushima Prefecture. The transport ministry on Friday approved an application by the company for flying a drone without an operator watching the airborne device or an assistant who monitors its movements. In past test flights, operators flew drones with assistants checking the movements of the devices by eye. This time, flights will be conducted without such an assistant for the first time. The mail delivery arm of Japan Post Holdings Co. is expected to start the test flights early next month.


Fukushima tops national sake competition for record-setting sixth year

The Japan Times

FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Prefecture is home to the largest number of award-winning sake brands for the sixth year in a row, marking a record in an annual competition, the National Research Institute of Brewing said Thursday. Nineteen brands from the prefecture won the Gold Prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards, matching Hyogo Prefecture for the year's top spot. Judges, including technical officers from the National Tax Agency and master brewers, chose 232 brands as Gold Prize winners out of 850 brands submitted from across the country. "We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite a severe situation due to rumors (about radiation contamination)," Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told a ceremony held in the prefectural government's head office in the city of Fukushima, referring to the fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. "I hope to promote the excellent sake produced in Fukushima both in and outside Japan," he added.


No Job for Humans: The Robot Assault on Fukushima

WIRED

The night before the mission, Kenji Matsuzaki could not sleep. For more than a year, Matsuzaki and a team of engineers had been developing their little robot--a bread-loaf-sized, red and white machine equipped with five propellers, a transparent dome, front and rear video cameras, and an array of lights and sensors. Nicknamed Little Sunfish, it was engineered to operate underwater, in total darkness, amid intense radiation. And after three months of testing, training, and fine-tuning, it was deemed ready to fulfill its mission: to find and photograph the melted-down radioactive fuel that had gone missing inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. More than six years had passed since an earthquake and tsunami hammered northeastern Japan and reduced the Fukushima facility to radioactive ruin.


Doubts cloud Minamisoma robotics project as Fukushima attempts to revive tsunami-hit city

The Japan Times

A coastal area in Fukushima Prefecture's Minamisoma, which seven years ago was overtaken by tsunami debris, is set to be resurrected as a major robotics research site. The Fukushima Robot Test Field, a 50-hectare site being built by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, is meant to be used by both domestic and foreign companies to develop robotics technologies. The site will be the central facility for the Innovation Coast project, the aim of which is to create new industries in tsunami-hit areas. But some of the participants are still waiting for the project to show signs of life. At the site, large fields for drone tests and a telecommunications tower are scheduled to be completed by June.