Robotic Surveys Having Trouble Inside Fukushima Reactor No. 1

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority is recommending using a different survey method after TEPCO said an attempt failed to deliver a camera to locations where images of nuclear fuel debris could be taken.

Six years after what is known in Japan as the Great Japan Earthquake, which triggered a devastating tsunami and severely damaged Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the company is dealing with a new challenge inside that power plant: It hasn't been successful at using robots in the No. 1 reactor to collect data on the locations of melted nuclear fuel and radiation levels, The Asahi Shimbun reported March 24.

The newspaper's website reported that Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority is recommending using a different survey method after TEPCO said March 23 that a robot attempt March 18-22 failed to deliver a camera to locations where images of nuclear fuel debris could be taken, and that other "recent investigations utilizing robots controlled remotely generated few findings and were quickly terminated."

TEPCO and its employees and contractors marked the sixth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month. "We remember the many people who lost their lives and family members as the result of the earthquake and tsunami," said TEPCO Holdings President Naomi Hirose, "and we also remember those whose lives were disrupted by the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. They are a constant inspiration to our work to do everything we can to safely decommission the site and help revitalize the Fukushima region."

He praised the "tireless" contributions from thousands of TEPCO workers and workers from other companies and countries to decommission the plant. "During these six years, we have progressed from emergency stabilization of the site to progress in long-term decommissioning," he said, citing reduced radiation at the site, improved working conditions, advances in water treatment and management, and information obtained from inside the Unit 2 reactor. "“These advances were made possible by the hard work and dedication of thousands of people, whether at the site or developing robot technology, or in laboratories or elsewhere," he said. "This progress represents the first steps of a long journey. Our commitment to the people of Fukushima will continue to inspire every step we take along that path until the work is complete."

The newspaper's report said the robot used inside the No. 1 reactor is equipped with a radiation dosimeter. "At one location, the robot succeeded in placing a camera, which is combined with a dosimeter, to a depth 0.3 meter from the containment vessel floor," it said. "The probe measured underwater radiation levels from 3.0 to 11 sieverts per hour during the five-day survey. But it was unable to take images of the debris in the water. TEPCO and the government hope to start removing molten nuclear fuel from 2021. But they have yet to collect information on the location, amount and condition of the melted fuel."

Product Showcase

  • Infrared (IR) electrical scans

    Infrared (IR) electrical scans

    Uncover electrical system component issues, prevent worker downtime and reduce employee injuries. Infrared (IR) electrical scans from e-Hazard quickly find and help solve problem areas in your electrical systems. IR electrical scans are needed because electrical system components put out excess heat caused by increased resistance when something is not working properly. IR electrical testing helps determine wiring errors, overloaded systems, loose connections, damaged switchgears, or components that are likely to fail. 3

  • InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test

    InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test

    The InteliSwab® COVID-19 Rapid Test from OraSure is a remarkably simple, and easy to use, at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test. InteliSwab puts the power of rapid results right in your hands. Anytime, anywhere, just swab, swirl and see results in minutes. InteliSwab has been tested against variants of concern and successfully detects Omicron subvariants. By testing frequently in the workplace, you can help prevent disruption and strengthen occupational health. Try InteliSwab today and get your free sample kit here: 3

  • Ventis Pro5

    Ventis Pro5

    The Ventis Pro5 from Industrial Scientific is the most flexible connected gas monitor on the market, giving you the power to protect workers from up to five gases, manage worker safety from remote locations, and simplify team communication to take the guesswork out of gas detection. It automatically shares real-time gas readings, man-down, and panic alarms between peers so the entire team knows who is in danger and why. Visit ASSP Safety booth #1115 or 3