Fukushima reactor's radiation levels ‘kill’ cleaning robot

28th of February 2017
Fukushima reactor's radiation levels ‘kill’ cleaning robot

A cleaning robot has been "killed" by high radiation levels after being deployed to clean out a nuclear reactor.

The robot, which was equipped with a high-pressure water nozzle, was sent into the Fukushima plant in Japan to scrape away melted uranium fuel and other debris from inside the nuclear reactor. However, within the space of two hours the machine's cameras went dark due to extremely high radiation levels and the robot had to be pulled out of the operation.

According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company, radiation levels inside Fukushima's nuclear reactor are the highest they have been since the meltdown in March 2011. This was when an undersea earthquake sent a huge tsunami hurtling towards Japan's northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

Three nuclear reactors went into meltdown in the worst accident of its kind since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tepco believes the cleaning robot was subjected to around 650 Sieverts of radiation per hour, an amount that would have killed a human instantly. The robot suffered the damage despite the fact that its camera was designed to withstand 1,000 sieverts of cumulative exposure.

The good news is that no radiation appears to be leaking outside the reactor according to experts. Tepco now has to decide whether or not to deploy a second cleaning robot to carry on where the first left off.



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