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Robot probe in No.1 containment vessel postponed

January 26, 2015

Reactor robot faces postponement



Jan. 26, 2016 - Updated 00:59 UTC

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is facing another obstacle as the firm tries to remove melted fuel from the crippled reactors. It's decided to postpone sending a robotic probe into one of the reactors after assessing the conditions as too severe.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, was planning to send the probe into the flooded base of the No.1 reactor's containment vessel by the end of March.

During the accident in 2011, most of the fuel melted through the core. The debris is thought to be accumulating in heavily contaminated water at the bottom of the vessel.

A robot TEPCO sent in last April failed to locate the fuel.

The newer robot can move in water. But an endoscopic inspection has revealed heavy clouding by rust and other elements. Officials say that the robot won't be able to function in those conditions.

The government and TEPCO now plan to postpone the probe by about a year to consider their options. One is to position the robot above the pool and take readings from there.

TEPCO also plans to send robots inside the No.2 and No.3 reactors, but they're yet to set a schedule.

Removing the melted fuel is considered the toughest part of the decades' long decommissioning process. Under the current timetable, the utility will have a broad outline drawn up of the fuel removal work by around June 2017.


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