Fukushima cleanup robots overpowered by radiation

fukushimaThe Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is still so toxic that even the robots tasked with cleaning up the site after three catastrophic meltdowns are struggling to ‘survive’.

Five years after a massive earthquake and 10ft-high tsunami laid waste to the energy plant in eastern Japan, the major operation to rid the area of nuclear debris continues.

An estimated $21 billion has been spent on cleanup efforts since 2011, including funding for a team of remote activated robots capable of going to high-dose radiation areas of the plant where humans cannot enter and survive.

However, it has now emerged that at least five of these robots have been lost to the dangers that lurk in Fukushima Daiichi’s severely damaged nuclear reactors and waste treatment buildings.

The machines were overpowered by the sheer scale of radiation during an effort to remove melted fuel rods, Reuters reports.

According to Naohiro Masuda, the man heading up the plant’s decommissioning project, the harmful radiation short-circuits the wiring in the robots, causing them to stop working and leaving them stranded inside the disaster site.

A map released by the plant’s operators, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), just last month shows the high levels of radiation being recorded around the plant’s wrecked reactors.

Areas located close to the initial disaster zone contain levels of radiation above the highest level recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) for rescue workers in emergencies. read more