Japan Tests Drones for Inspection of Damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

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Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the operator of Japan’s nuclear power plants, concluded testing of the first set of drones intended for use in the decommissioning process of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Remote control room of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Remote control room of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Image credit: TEPCO

Scheduled for deployment in February, a snake-shaped robot and four drones will be employed to assess the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor. The testing was completed on Tuesday.

This development marks a significant step in the decades-long decommissioning effort, especially since it will be the first instance of a drone entering the reactor’s containment vessel to offer a comprehensive view of the damage above water.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a core meltdown and a hydrogen blast almost 13 years ago in one of the most severe nuclear disasters in history.

Tepco aims to utilize the images captured by the drone to assess the feasibility of removing the melted fuel debris. A Tepco spokesperson emphasized a safety-first approach for the investigation, with meticulous checks on procedures and instructions to ensure safety throughout the process.

Unit 1’s nuclear reactor was the first to undergo a meltdown following a massive tsunami along the east coast of Japan in March 2011. Among the four reactors in operation that day, Unit 1 is considered the most severely damaged.

Tepco is actively working to comprehend the full extent of the damage and devise strategies for the removal of molten fuel—a complex task that experts estimate will span several decades.

Written by Alius Noreika

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