“Unimaginable Radiation Levels”: Robot Probing Melted Core at Fukushima Shuts Down Under Pressure
Zero Hedge --
Two years after sacrificing one robot, TEPCO officials have aborted their latest robot mission inside the Fukushima reactor after the 'scorpion' became unresponsive as it investigated the previously discovered hole where the core is believed to have melted.
A "scorpion" robot sent into a Japanese nuclear reactor to learn about the damage suffered in a tsunami-induced meltdown had its mission aborted after the probe ran into trouble, Tokyo Electric Power company said Thursday. As Phys.org reports, TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, sent the remote-controlled device into the No. 2 reactor where radiation levels have recently hit record highs.
The "scorpion" robot, so-called because it can lift up its camera-mounted tail to achieve better viewing angles, is also designed to crawl over rubble inside the damaged facility.
But it could not reach its target destination beneath a pressure vessel through which nuclear fuel is believed to have melted because the robot had difficulty moving, a company spokeswoman said.
"It's not immediately clear if that's because of radiation or obstacles," she said, adding that TEPCO is checking what data the robot was able to obtain, including images.
The robot, 60 centimetres (24 inches) long, is made by Toshiba and equipped with two cameras and sensors to gauge radiation levels and temperatures.
"Scorpion's mission is to take images of the situation and collect data inside the containment vessel," TEPCO spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki said earlier.
"Challenges include enduring high levels of radiation and moving on the rough surface," he said.
Radiation levels inside the reactor were estimated last week at 650 sieverts per hour at one spot, which can effectively shut down robots in hours.
This is not the first robot to become disoriented under the extreme stress of the Fukushima environment...