Underwater robot finds nuclear waste in Fukushima

An underwater robot has revealed what is thought to be a pile of melted nuclear fuel inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. The plant’s operator, […]

Register now!

By Jonny Bairstow

An underwater robot has revealed what is thought to be a pile of melted nuclear fuel inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima power plant in Japan.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said it was the first time it has been able to see inside certain areas of the plant since it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The company said the submersible robot found solidified radioactive waste in layers up to a metre deep below the reactor’s core on Friday during a three-day investigation of the site.

The operator will need to locate and analyse the melted fuel and other harmful waste at each of the power station’s destroyed reactors before the clean up process and decommissioning work can begin.

So far the robot, which is roughly the size of a shoebox, has been unable to find melted fuel in the other locations because of extensive damage to the building.

The water surrounding the waste is also contaminated, which will make the decades-long recovery process additionally difficult.

Fans of the popular game Pokémon GO were last year warned not to hunt for Pokémon in the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone in Japan.