Tags: fukushima | melted | nuclear | fuel

Fukushima Melted Nuclear Fuel? Robot Finds Possible Signs

Image: Fukushima Melted Nuclear Fuel? Robot Finds Possible Signs

Branch-like material (top L) likely to be nuclear fuel debris is shown in this photo taken July 21, 2017, at the No. 3 reactor of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. (Kyodo via AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 24 Jul 2017 10:02 AM

In the damaged Fukushima power plant, an underwater robot may have found melted nuclear fuel deposits, Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said on Sunday.

Solidified rocks and layers of lumps in large amounts were discovered underneath one of the three reactors, according to BBC News. The nuclear plant was severely damaged by a tsunami in 2011, and the natural disaster is thought to have triggered the most significant nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

"There is a high possibility that the solidified objects are mixtures of melted metal and fuel that fell from the vessel," a Tokyo Electric spokesman stated, according to Sky News. The spokesman added that the power company has planned to further analyze the images taken by the robot to confirm.

Finding fuel debris from when the plant was crippled has been an important part of the Japanese government's decommissioning process for the structure, noted Sky News. A large underwater earthquake caused a large tsunami to sweep through Japan's northeast coast on March 11, 2011, killing more than 15,000 people.

Some researchers believe that nuclear fuel melted at Fukusima and breached the core, with most of it falling to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, where it has been submerged by highly radioactive water some 20 feet deep, according to Sky News.

The Associated Press reported that the robot discovered solidified lava-like rocks in layers as thick as three feet on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal. The pedestal sits under the core inside the Fukushima's Unit 3 reactor primary containment vessel.

Cameras on the robot revealed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, the AP reported. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has not been successful because of damage and high radiation levels.

BBC News stated that, while no one directly died from the Fukushima incident, three former Tokyo Electric executives are on trial on charges of negligence resulting in death and injury of more than 40 patients evacuated from a hospital by the plant.

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In the damaged Fukushima power plant, an underwater robot may have found melted nuclear fuel deposits, Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said on Sunday.
fukushima, melted, nuclear, fuel
346
2017-02-24
Monday, 24 Jul 2017 10:02 AM
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