5.8-Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Coast of Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, Near Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site

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An earthquake with an initial magnitude of 5.8 hit northeast of Tokyo on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Thursday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) reported.
 
The quake was measured at a depth of 33 km (20 miles) about 79 km (49 miles) east-northeast of Iwaki on Honshu.
 
The temblor, which measured 4 on the Japanese seismic scale which peaks at 7, struck at a latitude of 37.3 degrees north and a longitude of 141.6 degrees east at 9:11 a.m. local time (0000 GMT).
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the quake struck at a depth of 40 km.
 
Fukushima police also said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
 
No fresh damage to the crippled nuclear power plant there was reported and there was no risk of a tsunami, officials said.
 
“We have found no (new) abnormality so far” at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said a spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator. Tokyo Electric is working to clean up and dismantle the reactors in a process that is expected to take decades.
 
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011 triggered a massive and deadly tsunami, which smashed into the power station and sparked the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
 
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Scaffolding at No.3 Fukushima reactor missing

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant says the metal scaffolding right below the damaged No.3 reactor appears to have gone missing after the 2011 disaster.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, started a full-scale robotic probe into the containment vessel on Wednesday.
 
In the 2011 accident, most of the nuclear fuel in the No.3 reactor is believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel that covers the reactor. The nuclear fuel is thought to lie within 6-meter-deep water that was injected for cooling.
 
TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to remove the nuclear fuel debris as part of decommissioning of the reactor. They are trying to locate the debris.
 
They used a new underwater robot equipped with cameras for Wednesday’s probe. It is 30 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide.
 
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Underwater Robot Probe of Reactor 3 Begins

 

Underwater robot probe inside Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor begins
 
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began on Wednesday probing inside a contaminated water-filled reactor containment vessel at one of its units using an underwater robot.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant operator, is hoping to discover the precise location and condition of melted fuel debris inside the No. 3 reactor, one of the three units which suffered meltdowns in the 2011 nuclear crisis following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
 
On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami hit the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1-3 units suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.
 
Six years after the disaster, the condition of nuclear debris remains unknown as radiation levels inside the reactors are still extremely high.
 
Since the water levels inside the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor are higher than those of other reactors, the utility, known as Tepco, sent in an underwater robot equipped with a camera.
 
The robot entered the structure around 6:30 a.m. through a pipe connected to the containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, according to Tepco.
 
The remote-controlled robot, attached to cables, then headed to the area just below the reactor pressure vessel and tried to capture images there.
 
Based on the outcome of Wednesday’s probe, the robot will travel on Friday as far as to the bottom of the containment vessel, where the deposits of melted fuel debris are believed to have accumulated.
 
Tepco said about 6.4 meters of water — injected into the structure to cool the fuel — has accumulated in the bottom of the containment vessel.
 
From January to March, Tepco conducted robot surveys including sending a self-propelled robot into the Nos. 1-2 reactors, where water levels are lower than the No. 3 reactor, but they failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.
 
 
 
 
Swimming Robot Captures Underwater Images of Damaged Fukushima Nuclear Reactor
 
(TOKYO) — An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.
 
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the robot, nicknamed “the Little Sunfish,” successfully completed the day’s work inside the primary containment vessel of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima, which was destroyed by a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto praised the work, saying the robot captured views of the underwater damage that had not been previously seen. However, the images contained no obvious sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers hope to locate, he said.
 
The robot was left inside the reactor near a structure called the pedestal, and is expected to go deeper inside for a fuller investigation Friday in hopes of finding the melted fuel.
 
“The damage to the structures was caused by the melted fuel or its heat,” Kimoto told a late-night news conference held nine hours after the probe ended its exploration earlier in the day.
 
The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with five propellers and collects data with two cameras and a dosimeter. It is controlled remotely by a group of four operators.
 
The robot was co-developed by Toshiba Corp., the electronics and energy company charged with helping clean up the plant, and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a government-funded consortium.
 
It was on a mission to study the damage and find the fuel that experts say has melted, breached the core and mostly fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, where it has been submerged by highly radioactive water as deep as 6 meters (20 feet).
 
The robot discovered that a grate platform that is supposed to be below the reactor core was missing and apparently was knocked down by melted fuel and other materials that fell from above, and that parts of a safety system called a control rod drive were also missing.
 
Remote-controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning of the damaged plant, but super-high levels of radiation and structural damage have hampered earlier probes at two other reactors at the plant.
 
Japanese officials say they want to determine preliminary methods for removing the melted nuclear fuel this summer and start work in 2021.
 
Scientists need to know the fuel’s exact location and understand the structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the safest and most efficient ways to remove the fuel.
 
Robots tested earlier became stuck inside the two other reactors. A scorpion-shaped robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. A snake-shaped robot designed to clear debris for the scorpion probe was removed after two hours when its cameras failed due to radiation levels five times higher than anticipated.
 
The robot used Wednesday was designed to tolerate radiation of up to 200 sieverts — a level that can kill humans instantly.
 
Kimoto said the robot showed that the Unit 3 reactor chamber was “clearly more severely damaged” than Unit 2, which was explored by the scorpion probe.
 

Underwater Robot Begins Probing Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 3 reactor

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This image captured by an underwater robot provided by International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning shows a part of a control rod drive of Unit 3 at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma town, northeastern Japan Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The underwater robot has captured images and other data inside Japan’s crippled nuclear plant on its first day of work. The robot is on a mission to study damage and find fuel that experts say has melted and mostly fallen to the bottom of a chamber and has been submerged by highly radioactive water.
Swimming robot probes Fukushima reactor to find melted fuel
TOKYO — An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the robot, nicknamed “the Little Sunfish,” successfully completed the day’s work inside the primary containment vessel of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima, which was destroyed by a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto praised the work, saying the robot captured views of the underwater damage that had not been previously seen. However, the images contained no obvious sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers hope to locate, he said.
The robot was left inside the reactor near a structure called the pedestal, and is expected to go deeper inside for a fuller investigation Friday in hopes of finding the melted fuel.
“The damage to the structures was caused by the melted fuel or its heat,” Kimoto told a late-night news conference held nine hours after the probe ended its exploration earlier in the day.
The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with five propellers and collects data with two cameras and a dosimeter. It is controlled remotely by a group of four operators.
The robot was co-developed by Toshiba Corp., the electronics and energy company charged with helping clean up the plant, and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a government-funded consortium.
It was on a mission to study the damage and find the fuel that experts say has melted, breached the core and mostly fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, where it has been submerged by highly radioactive water as deep as 6 meters (20 feet).
The robot discovered that a grate platform that is supposed to be below the reactor core was missing and apparently was knocked down by melted fuel and other materials that fell from above, and that parts of a safety system called a control rod drive were also missing.
Remote-controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning of the damaged plant, but super-high levels of radiation and structural damage have hampered earlier probes at two other reactors at the plant.
Japanese officials say they want to determine preliminary methods for removing the melted nuclear fuel this summer and start work in 2021.
Scientists need to know the fuel’s exact location and understand the structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the safest and most efficient ways to remove the fuel.
Robots tested earlier became stuck inside the two other reactors. A scorpion-shaped robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. A snake-shaped robot designed to clear debris for the scorpion probe was removed after two hours when its cameras failed due to radiation levels five times higher than anticipated.
The robot used Wednesday was designed to tolerate radiation of up to 200 sieverts — a level that can kill humans instantly.
Kimoto said the robot showed that the Unit 3 reactor chamber was “clearly more severely damaged” than Unit 2, which was explored by the scorpion probe.
Underwater robot probe inside Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor begins
TOKYO — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began on Wednesday probing inside a contaminated water-filled reactor containment vessel at one of its units using an underwater robot.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant operator, is hoping to discover the precise location and condition of melted fuel debris inside the No. 3 reactor, one of the three units which suffered meltdowns in the 2011 nuclear crisis following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami hit the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1-3 units suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.
Six years after the disaster, the condition of nuclear debris remains unknown as radiation levels inside the reactors are still extremely high.
Since the water levels inside the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor are higher than those of other reactors, the utility, known as Tepco, sent in an underwater robot equipped with a camera.
The robot entered the structure around 6:30 a.m. through a pipe connected to the containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, according to Tepco.
The remote-controlled robot, attached to cables, then headed to the area just below the reactor pressure vessel and tried to capture images there.
Based on the outcome of Wednesday’s probe, the robot will travel on Friday as far as to the bottom of the containment vessel, where the deposits of melted fuel debris are believed to have accumulated.
Tepco said about 6.4 meters of water — injected into the structure to cool the fuel — has accumulated in the bottom of the containment vessel.
From January to March, Tepco conducted robot surveys including sending a self-propelled robot into the Nos. 1-2 reactors, where water levels are lower than the No. 3 reactor, but they failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.
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Scaffolding at No.3 Fukushima reactor missing
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant says the metal scaffolding right below the damaged No.3 reactor appears to have gone missing after the 2011 disaster.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, started a full-scale robotic probe into the containment vessel on Wednesday.
 
In the 2011 accident, most of the nuclear fuel in the No.3 reactor is believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel that covers the reactor. The nuclear fuel is thought to lie within 6-meter-deep water that was injected for cooling.
 
TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to remove the nuclear fuel debris as part of decommissioning of the reactor. They are trying to locate the debris.
 
They used a new underwater robot equipped with cameras for Wednesday’s probe. It is 30 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide.
 
The robot was unable to obtain an image of the metal grating which was right below the reactor before the disaster.
 
TEPCO officials say the grating apparently fell along with the molten fuel.
 
They told reporters that they could not determine where the nuclear fuel debris is. But they said they could identify a path that might lead to areas where the debris is believed to lie.

Japan map showing potential nuclear waste disposal sites to be released

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Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko on July 18 announced the forthcoming release of a map showing the most appropriate areas in Japan to bury high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.
 
Speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting on July 18, Seko said the “scientific property map” would be released as early as this month.
 
“Providing the map is the first step in the long path toward achieving final disposal,” Seko said. He added that an informal decision had been made to hold explanatory meetings across Japan after the release of the map.
 
The map will divide Japan into four colors designating the suitability of various areas for permanently storing highly radioactive waste.
 
Areas that are within 15 kilometers of a volcano, that are near an active fault, or that are bountiful in mineral resources, will be “presumed to have undesirable properties” and be excluded from the list of possible sites.
 

Evacuations Ordered as Heavy Rains Lashed Fukushima…

Heavy rains lashed Fukushima Prefecture during the last few days, prompting evacuation orders in some areas amid fears of flooding. These rains transport lots of radionuclides from the mountainsides and forests down into the towns, redistributing the insoluble cesium particles, recontaminating places having being previously decontaminated. A never ending story.
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Evacuations ordered as heavy rains lash Fukushima and Niigata prefectures
 
Heavy rains lashed Fukushima and Niigata prefectures on Tuesday, prompting evacuation orders in some areas amid fears of flooding.
 
The town of Tadami in western Fukushima ordered over 4,300 residents to evacuate, warning against river flooding and landslides. A local train service was partially suspended, according to East Japan Railway Co.
 
In the city of Gosen and the town of Aga in Niigata, over 1,400 residents were ordered to move to shelters amid flood concerns, according to the municipalities.
 
There were no reports of injuries in the towns and city on Tuesday morning.
 
In Niigata, including the cities of Nagaoka and Sanjo, an evacuation advisory was in effect on Tuesday, affecting over 20,000 people.
 
The number of deaths in flood-hit southwestern Japan climbed to 34 on Monday, with seven more people still unaccounted for.
 
In Kyushu, some 2,700 Self-Defense Forces personnel and firefighters continued a search for the missing, while around 9,000 volunteers worked over the three-day holiday weekend to clear mud and damaged furniture from houses.
 
But their work was temporarily suspended Monday as evacuation orders were issued to about 16,000 residents from almost 6,000 households in the city of Asakura and the village of Toho, both in Fukuoka Prefecture, due to potential heavy rain. They were among the areas hardest hit by torrential rains that began July 5.
 
The mercury hit 34.8 in Asakura and 36.2 in Hita on Monday, according to the Meteorological Agency.
 
In the meantime, two bodies recovered from the Ariake Sea, several dozen kilometers from the disaster-hit area, were identified as Yukie Kojima, 70, and Kazuko Ide, 59, both from Asakura.
 
Five bodies found in the sea have been identified as victims of the disaster.
 
Heavy rain triggers evacuation orders in Fukushima, Niigata municipalities
 
Evacuation orders were issued across the town of Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture, as of 10 a.m. on July 18 as the area was struck with heavy rainfall.
 
Meanwhile, according to the Niigata Prefectural Government risk management department, evacuation orders were also issued as of 10 a.m. to some areas in the districts of Minamitanaka, Aohashi, Nakanohashi, Sasanomachi, Nagahashi and Agamachi in the prefectural city of Gosen.
 
In addition, evacuation advisories are also in place in seven Niigata Prefecture municipalities including the prefectural capital of Niigata, Sanjo and Uonuma, covering roughly 80,000 residents.