Robot Mini-Manbo Locates Melted Uranium Fuel in Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Published by , November 20, 2017 12:16 pm

(NYTimes)  Japanese engineers have piloted a small robot named Mini-Manbo, or “little sunfish” into the contaminated heart of the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant. Earlier robots had failed, getting caught on debris or suffering circuit malfunctions from excess radiation. But the newer version is made of radiation-hardened materials with a sensor to help it avoid dangerous hot spots in the plant’s flooded reactor buildings.
The Manbo reached the heavily damaged Unit 3 reactor. There, the robot beamed back video of a gaping hole at the bottom of the reactor and, on the floor beneath it, clumps of what looked like solidified lava: the first images ever taken of the plant’s melted uranium fuel. Locating the fuel of the plant’s ruined reactors mark what Japanese officials hope will prove to be a turning point in the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.

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