New robots deployed at Fukushima — The Wall Street Journal

” A team of rival Japanese companies unveiled a new family of robots to help workers with the daunting task of decommissioning the three reactors that went into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.

Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. hopes to use the robots to begin decontaminating the second and third floors of the reactor buildings sometime after April. The robots are the latest tools developed in Japan’s trial-and-error struggles to clean up the nuclear disaster– which even the most optimistic say will take about half a century.

One robot will blast high-pressure water to decontaminate surfaces, while another will spray pellets of dry ice on contaminated objects for retrieval. The third will spray abrasives and then scrape the contaminated surfaces to remove radiated particles.

The robots were developed in a rare collaboration between competitors Mitsubishi Heavy, Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, and Toshiba. Workers will also need to install large elevators on site so the robots can reach the second and third floors of the contaminated reactor buildings, and smaller robots will need to be deployed in cramped spaces.

If the robots can remove radiated debris on those floors, workers may be able to enter the area above the nuclear fuel containment vessel, to better assess the situation and possibly access equipment.

Although decontamination has progressed in areas outside the reactor buildings, so that workers no longer need to wear full face masks at about 90% of the entire site, radiation levels inside are too high for workers to enter.

Tepco hopes to start removing debris inside one of the reactors around 2021, but acknowledges that all dates are uncertain. ”

source with photo

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