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.