Robots Sent into the Fukushima Plant Have Not Returned

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has sent in five robots to locate the spent fuel rods in one of the Fukushima plant's buildings. However, the robots have gone dark. Operators believe radiation from the plant melted their wires.


Not even robots can survive within the ruins of the Fukushima power plant. Operators lost contact with the five robots that went in, they are assumed to have broken-down from the radiation.

After a 9.0 Earthquake triggered a tsunami, killing 16,000 people and causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, officials began removing the spent fuel pins (or rods) back in 2013. This project was headed up by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco). They have so far removed hundreds of spent fuel rods from one of the damaged buildings, but there are still three more buildings to clear, and locating the fuel rods is proving difficult.

“It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant," Naohiro Masuda, Tepco's head of decommissioning told Reuters. "The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

The rods are about 13 feet long and weigh several tons and contain pellets of spent uranium fuel. The fear is that the storage pools or the rods themselves may have been damaged after the Earthquake and tsunami hit. Reuters has already reported that some of the rods have melted through their containment vessels.

The radiation near the Fukushima plant is too strong for humans to survive, so Tepco developed robots to navigate the land terrain and underwater tunnels to track down the missing rods. However, robots are not immune to radiation; it can and has melted the wiring within the five robots it sent in.

Tepco spent two years developing and building one of these specialized robots. At this rate officials believe it could take up to four decades to decommission the plant.

***

Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Image of spent fuel rods: KIMIMASA MAYAMA/AFP/Getty Images

5 of the worst keto diet side effects

The keto diet can help with weight loss, but at what cost?

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In addition to weight loss, there are a few well-known side effects of the keto diet, some of which can be unpleasant.
  • Some side effects of the keto diet are bound to occur, though others only happen when the diet is implemented poorly.
  • The keto diet doesn't have to lead to a host of negative side effects, but anyone considering undertaking the diet over the long term should be especially careful.
Keep reading Show less

Why are people sexually attracted to cartoons? Evolution.

Nikolaas Tinbergen's concept of "supernormal stimulus" explains why humans are attracted to a heightened version of reality.

(Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
Mind & Brain
  • According to Pornhub's annual statistics, "hentai" and "cartoons" were among the most popular categories in 2018.
  • Such pornography is a supernormal stimulus, an artificial object that triggers an animal's instinctual response more intensely than natural analogs.
  • Supernormal stimuli not only explain our heightened response to pornography, but also art, junk food, and social media.
Keep reading Show less

Standardized tests: Finland’s education system vs. the U.S.

Finland and the U.S. have chosen opposing answers to the question of how much standardized testing is too much.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Imperial China developed the first standardized tests for bureaucratic hopefuls.
  • Finland has all but done away with standardized tests, and its education system remains one of the best in the world.
  • The United States relies heavily on these tests and scores lower than Finland in academic rigor, yet provides a more balanced educational system for boys and girls, as well as immigrants
Keep reading Show less