Japanese Plant Still Too Toxic, “Radioactive Wall-E” Says

9 years ago by in Travel

Photo by The U.S. Army

What do you do when a whole nation asks for a crippled nuclear station to be quickly repaired, but it is too dangerous for humans to enter? You send in the robots.

Looking like a mix between a drafting lamp and a miniature military tank, two American-made robots were sent Sunday inside the Fukushima nuclear station to gather information about the toxicity level. Their discoveries did not allow for too much optimism.

The two iRobot Corp. robots gathered data on temperature, pressure and radioactivity. The conclusion? The radiation inside the plant is still too high for humans to enter. Following the March 11 earthquake and the huge tsunami, entering the Fukushima plant has been very dangerous.

The robot-gathered data showed that a person entering the plant now would have to stand in an hour one-fifth of the radiation that the government said most workers should be exposed to during a whole year.

Officials of the plant operator, TEPCO, said the robot’s work is just the foundation for what has to be done until workers will be able to enter the building again. The company’s plan of achieving a cold shutdown of the affected reactors in the next six to nine months was not changed after the data gathered by the robots came in. More data will, however, be gathered.

"What robots can do is limited, so eventually, people must enter the buildings," TEPCO official Takeshi Makigami said. [AP, Bloomberg]