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article imageRobot gets look inside Fukushima reactors for first time today

By Karen Graham     Apr 10, 2015 in World
Fukushima - A robot was deployed for the first time on Friday to survey the condition of the melted fuel in reactor No. 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, according to TEPCO officials.
The snake-like robot is 60 centimeters in length and 9.5 centimeters in height. It's equipped with cameras, a thermometer, and dosimeter, and is said to be able to function for around 10 hours under high radiation levels,
The robotic technology was developed by Toshiba Corp. and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID). It is a muon*1-based technology for imaging and mapping nuclear fuel debris inside the reactor pressure vessel at Fukushima's power plant.
In a press release issued on March 27, 2015, IRID said the use of the robot would help to speed the dismantling of the damaged reactors if the TEPCO workers have a realistic picture of damage and the location of the nuclear fuel debris in the core. The IRID cites Three Mile Island, saying it took 10 years to get an assessment on the amount and location of the nuclear fuel.
The Fukushima plant suffered meltdowns in three of its six reactors in March 2011 after being hit by an earthquake- triggered tsunami. It is believed that the nuclear fuel has melted through the containment vessels in the three reactors, accumulating in the outer containers.
Because of the extremely high levels of radiation within the reactors, they are inaccessable to humans, so a robot is the best answer to seeing the damage first-hand. "We believe this will lead us to figuring out how to decommission the reactor," Ryo Shimizu, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told NBC News.
Shimizu told NBC the robot was inserted into the maze of pipes leading to reactor No. 1 around 4:32 p.m. ET on Thursday evening. After about two hours, it reached its destination and suddenly stopped its work about two-thirds of the way through its examination. Shimizu indicated the reason for the disruption was not immediately known.
Friday's probe is just the first of a number of examinations planned for the three reactors. Tepco plans to finish the examinations by next spring. Two additional probes are being developed to examine reactor units two and three.
More about Fukushima power plant, snakelike robot, TEPCO, reactor no 1, Meltdowns
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