A robot being controlled remotely has identified the exact spot that has been leaking highly radioactive water at the damaged No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The radiation level of the water in the area was detected at 0.9 to 1.8 sieverts an hour.
The robot was directed to the lower level of the reactor’s containment vessel where the contaminated water used to cool the molten nuclear fuel is located. The high radiation levels have made it nearly impossible to explore the area but the success of this operation can lead to using robots to locate and explore the damage in the No. 2 and 3 reactors, which utility operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) suspect are having similar leaks. The robot, through its camera, was able to capture the image of the water that was leaking from two holes in the vessel. However, they could not determine how much water has already leaked through those holes.
Locating the exact location of the leaks is crucial not just in solving the water contamination issues of the plant, but is also the first step towards decommissioning the reactors, which is expected to take between 30-40 years. The ongoing problems at the plant has caused the Japanese government to ask for help from international experts, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.S. Energy Department. They are helping TEPCO in checking the leaks as well as coming up with preventive measures to keep the contaminated water from seeping into the Pacific Ocean.
[ via RTT News ]