March 3, 2017 3:10 pm

Robots to play key role in dismantling nuclear reactors at Fukushima


Robots are to take key roles in dismantling Fukushima’s damaged nuclear reactors crippled by a devastating earthquake and tsunami – in order to protect workers from high radiation.

Toshiba Co. last year revealed the latest remote-controlled device designed to remove debris and spent fuel from the cooling pool in the reactor 3 of Fukushima’s No. 1 nuclear plant.

Workers sitting in lower radiation areas will be able to operate the robot remotely.

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The robot consists of a crane and a fuel handling machine, whose two robotic arms are capable of gripping and cutting debris to take out fuel rods.

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Toshiba is planning to introduce the robot when Tepco starts removal operations in the reactor, which is scheduled sometime this year.

In December last year, the government nearly doubled its projections for costs related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($188 billion), increasing pressure on Tepco to step up reforms and improve its performance.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake, the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan, created three tsunamis that knocked out the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

Tepco has since struggled to remove spent fuel rod assemblies from the damaged buildings at the plant.

© 2017 Reuters

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