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.

Tepco to use SoftBank's driverless bus to transport Fukushima workers

The Japan Times

FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. is set to pick a driverless electric bus made by a SoftBank Group Corp. unit to transport those decommissioning its disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, informed sources said.

Watch: Fukushima Robot Finds Chunks Of Nuclear Fuel Debris Underwater

International Business Times

An underwater robot deployed into one of Fukushima's defunct nuclear reactors discovered what appeared to be hunks of melted fuel debris. Video recorded by the robot showed "lava-like" lumps inside the submerged No. 3 reactor. The robot was sent into the reactor through a pipe meant to prevent the escape of radioactive gas, Reuters reported Thursday. Operators aimed for the machine to locate radioactive melted fuel rods in order to remove them and continue decommissioning the plant. Discovering the melted fuel would mark a major accomplishment for plant's cleanup process.

Fukushima Robot Finds Nuclear Fuel Debris 'Hanging Like Icicles' In Power Plant

International Business Times

A robot sent into Fukushima's defunct nuclear power plant found what could potentially be melted nuclear fuel debris -- hanging in the form of "icicles." The machine was deployed to locate the source of the melted debris and potentially clean it up. Officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company tasked with decommissioning the power plant, said the objects the robot spotted were inside the interior of reactor three. The icicle-like objects were hanging onto a control rod drive attached to the bottom of a pressure vessel which holds the core, the Japan Times reported Friday. Read: Fukushima's'Unimaginable' Nuclear Radiation So Destructive, Not Even Robots Can Survive The robot, nicknamed "the Little Sunfish," was sent into the plant Wednesday.

Fukushima robot finds potential fuel debris hanging like icicles in reactor 3

The Japan Times

Tokyo Electric said Friday that a remotely controlled robot investigating the interior of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has finally spotted objects that could potentially be fuel debris. The objects look like icicles hanging around a control rod drive attached to the bottom of the pressure vessel, which holds the core, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said at an evening news conference. Enclosed by the huge primary containment vessel, the pressure vessel originally contained the fuel rod assemblies. But the rods melted into a puddle and pierced the bottom of the pressure vessel once the plant lost power after being swamped by the monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011. The robot also captured images of lumps of material that appears to have melted and resolidified near the wall of the pedestal, a concrete structure that supports the pressure vessel.

Tepco sends new type of robot into Fukushima No. 1 reactor in search of fuel debris

Japan Times >> News

Tokyo Electric Wednesday sent a submersible robot into the primary containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to probe for the exact location of melted fuel debris. The the first day of the operation, which lasted for about three hours, failed to find the fuel. Still, engineers and technicians learned the inside of the structure was quite damaged, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said in an evening news conference. "This was the first time that a robot has entered the containment vessel of reactor 3," said Takahiro Kimoto, a Tepco spokesman. "We think this is a big step."

Toshiba unveils submersible video robot to probe reactor 3 at Fukushima No. 1 plant

The Japan Times

The location and condition of the fuel in the three reactors hit by core meltdowns is critical information for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which runs the plant. Removing the fuel debris is considered the most difficult part of decommissioning the complex. Unit 3 has the highest level of water inside at 6 meters. The fuel debris inside is presumed to have melted through its pressure vessel and settled at the bottom of its primary containment vessel. "Until today, no one has seen the situation inside reactor 3," said Tsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba's Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department.

VIDEO: Watch Drone Footage Of Fukushima's Rebuilding Post-Nuclear Disaster

International Business Times

The government in Fukushima, Japan released drone footage Thursday showing the progression made in the area's rebuilding process six years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown devastated the region. The videos showed a multitude of areas in the prefecture, including Iwaki City, about 30 miles south of the Fukushima plant, and Futaba, a town 11 miles north of the plant. The videos also showed reconstruction on roads and coastlines, areas severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. The government has been working for six years to revive the area. Earlier in May, a bill was enacted to accelerate reconstruction by using state funding to aid the decontamination process in certain districts, according to the Japan Times.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Radiation Affected Everyone On Earth

International Business Times

Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster had an impact on every single person on Earth, according to scientists. The meltdown hit everyone on the planet with a dose of radiation, but fortunately, not enough to have a real impact. "We don't need to worry," said Nikolas Evangeliou, according to New Scientist. He is part of the team at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research that conducted the survey. Read: Fukushima's Nuclear Radiation So Destructive, Not Even Robots Can Survive The average person was dosed with 0.5 millisieverts of radiation from the accident.

Tepco, Zenrin look to jointly develop safe routes for drones

The Japan Times

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and map publisher Zenrin Co. said Wednesday they will collaborate to develop safe flight routes for drones. Under the "drone highway" initiative, Tepco will offer information on its power grid network, such as locations of transmission towers, power poles and electric cables, for mapping on Zenrin's three-dimensional map database to create flight-support infrastructure for guiding drones. "Drone ports" to charge drones will also be set up. The two companies aim to launch the drone flight aid service in fiscal 2019, after conducting tests. A Tepco official said other power companies, telecommunication carriers and railways will be asked to join the drone highway initiative.