TEPCO Sacrifices Another "Swimming Robot" At Fukushima: Still "No Sign Of Melted Nuclear Core"

While Elon Musk is fearful of the future of AI and robots destroying man, it appears the Japanese are taking the battle to the robots as they send a third 'swimming' robot into the destroyed Fukushima reactors in search of the melted nuclear core material.

As Valuewalk.com's Aman Jain writes, a swimming robot showed just how bad the damage at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is.

The robot dubbed “the Little Sunfish” went inside the factory and captured images of the containment vessel in the Unit 3 reactor, which was swept away by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

No signs of melted nuclear fuel yet

Toshiba Corp., the company which has been given the responsibility of cleaning the plant, has co-developed the swimming robot with the International Research Institute for nuclear decommissioning.

The robot is on a mission to locate the fuel that melted and seeped from the core, falling to the bottom of the primary containment chamber where it was surrounded by highly radioactive water as deep as 6 meters, notes the Review Journal.

The little Sunfish is a small robot which propels around the area and captures data using two cameras and a dosimeter. Further, the robot is controlled by a group of four operators from a remote distance. The robot, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, is connected to data cables all the time. Further, the observations made by the robot are sent back to the team via the data cable.

On Wednesday, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) spokesman Takahiro Kimoto stated that they had received the first pictures of the underwater damage from the swimming robot, but there is no sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers are looking for.

In a late night news conference, Kimoto said, “The damage to the structures was caused by the melted fuel or its heat.”

Inside the plant, the robot was placed near the structure known as the pedestal, from where it went further in search of more information and the possibility of stumbling upon the melted fuel.

Third attempt using the swimming robot

The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which killed more than 18,000 people, also damaged the power plant in Fukushima, making it the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl. There have been a couple of attempts to explore the first and the second reactor, but the robots could not pass through. They either got stuck or swallowed by the excessive radiation still present inside the plant. However, the Little Sunfish gave a glimpse of the badly damaged number 3 reactor.

Meanwhile, the budget allocated to the exploration and clean-up process more than doubled to a whopping $188 billion last year, but the agenda is still running behind schedule. TEPCO has also not been able to decide on what to do with the 777,000 tons of water contaminated with tritium when it was used to cool down the plant’s cores.

Earlier, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura stated that there is only one solution left, which calls for dumping the water tanks into the Pacific Ocean. According to the officials, tritium is not harmful in small doses, but local activists and fisherman said that this will a create another negative impression about the country’s environmental commitments, which are already not in a good place as it deals with the horrible nuclear disaster.


AGuy PT Sat, 07/22/2017 - 14:39 Permalink

"Why is this so hard????"

Most likely they simply can't get to the area because ist blocked off by debris when the contaiment structure was destroyed. Imagine trying to look inside the basement of a collapsed building, its likely blocked by the collapsed building material.

What the will need to do is core drill through the to bottom of the reactor so they can drill a hole through the debris, but first they will need to make a map of the area so that can find the good spot to drill.

In reply to by PT

AGuy Rusty Shorts Sat, 07/22/2017 - 14:44 Permalink

"suspect that all the fuel in units 1 - 4 was lost to the atmosphere, TEPCO knows this, there is no melted fuel, it went up in smoke."

I doubt it. If the cores were blown out it would have made a quarter of Japan a dead zone. It would have made Tokyo uninhabitable. There is still spent fuel in the spent fuel pool above the reactors. if the core was blown out, so would have all the spent fuel in the spent fuel pools.

In reply to by Rusty Shorts

Rusty Shorts AGuy Sat, 07/22/2017 - 17:30 Permalink

Most (if not all) of the fuel in unit 1 and 2 was vented out of th SRV valves, I can't really say what happened with Unit 1 and 2 fuel pools but since ALL cooling was lost in all units, the fuel pools probably went up in smoke as well. Most of it blew out over the Pacific Ocean. Unit 3 blew sky high, here's a good represntation of what happened at unit 3 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH9oiGUWMuc Unit 4 , fuel pools ran dry, all fuel burned to atmosphere. excellent report by Troy Livingston - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBwrZrx-ewM

In reply to by AGuy

Miner GUS100CORRINA Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:58 Permalink

>>the cores are melting their way to the center of the earth.You are mistaken.  To do this the MOX fuel rod assemblies would have had to completely melted, (they didn't), melted through the 1" steel primary containment, and then melted through feet of reinforced concrete.  We know from Chernobyl that both steel and concrete are soluble in extremely hot nuclear fuel* and the alloy viscosity increases with more steel and concrete.Unless the reinforced concrete secondary containment broke (feet of steel reinforced concrete)(it didn't) the fuel is still in there.

In reply to by GUS100CORRINA

HalinCA (not verified) GUS100CORRINA Sat, 07/22/2017 - 13:37 Permalink

Overly dramatic and very unlikely. The power generating chain reaction stopped when the fuel melted and the core lost its geometry, so all the heat is coming from decay products. Still deadly due to the radiation produced, but not a chain reaction. If it was still 'burning its way to the core', there would be massive steam being generated and we'd see that coming up from the hole.

In reply to by GUS100CORRINA

revjimbeam AtATrESICI Sat, 07/22/2017 - 12:27 Permalink

If youre so concerned about down votes,please, by all means, take your worthless comments to the echo chamber of your choosing. we like to think, challenge ideas, and call bullshit when we see it here. youve been fishing for 'likes' since you first showed up on this site by posting any vapid comment that you believe goes along with the prevailing opinion on any given subject regardless of the articles content on which you posted, then lash out like a little bitch with a skinned knee if someone has the audacity to disagree or, God forbid, down vote(the horror) you. either grow some thicker skin and accept that someone actually may have a different opinion than you, or refrain from posting unless you have something relevant, funny, or simply ad hominem to say, just realize that someone who is not paid and not a troll may not agree...

In reply to by AtATrESICI

SILVERGEDDON vato poco Fri, 07/21/2017 - 21:44 Permalink

Just remember - since 2011, they been pumping water into what is left of the reactors to keep the fuel from going critical, burning, and causing a life extinction event for the entire planet. "Tepco estimated that over 400 tons of water per day was escaping containment to flow through the water table into the Pacific ocean. That - is a lot of fucking highly radioactive water. Any seafood from the Pacific from Japan to Chile has been irradiated thanks to prevailaing ocean currents at this point.I quit eating seafood in 2012. You should do the same, unless you wanna feed Big Medical Cancer treatment sooner rather than later. The management of this farce by Tepco is a crime against humanity. So far, pumping water on what is left of the reactors, and building a fucking tent around the buildings is as far as they have gone towards mitigation. I guarantee you that not a single fucking crook in management or government has missed any opportunity to make more money while putting a band aid on the severed head, so to speak.Tepco management should be suited up, and sent into the reactor cores to scoop up all that nasty shit, and shovel it into containers. Yeah, I know that they would die first, but they are highly toxic waste as well, so who cares ?

In reply to by vato poco

HockeyFool SILVERGEDDON Sat, 07/22/2017 - 07:50 Permalink

"Any seafood from the Pacific from Japan to Chile has been irradiated..."The fish can become CONTAMINATED. There is a difference. Irradiated implies exposure to gamma rays and receiving an absorbed dose. A large enough dose would kill the fish. Less than lethal the fish lives and is not harmful if you ate an irradiated fish. In fact irradiating food and drugs happens all the time to preserve it.Contamination is worse in this case as the fish pick up and internalize radioactive isopes which could become transferred to your body if you ate one of them.And just in case any one is wondering, tritium is not formed by water being exposed to this non fissioning nuclear fuel.

In reply to by SILVERGEDDON

saveUSsavers (not verified) HockeyFool Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:04 Permalink

I thought the concern is Cesium 137, Cal Berkely is in the forefront, according to what I read, measuring seafood on Calif coast periodically. Main concern is Blue Fin, which takes 6 yrs to mature for canning, and it's spent entire life in waters bet Japan & N. Calif, other of course is ocean salmon. 

In reply to by HockeyFool

SILVERGEDDON HockeyFool Sat, 07/22/2017 - 15:34 Permalink

Sorry, layman's terms - and not just contaminated, but bio accumulated - always room for more contamination until dead. And, most seafood consumed by humans is at the top of the food chain, therefore, the most contaminated, therefore equals Radiation Roulette, with all chamnbers loaded with rounds of varying lethality. Dead is dead though. Slow death by radiation poisoning ain't my choice of ways to go out though.  

In reply to by HockeyFool