Robot finds possible melted fuel in Fukushima reactor


Lava-like rocks believed to be melted nuclear fuel have been spotted inside Japan's stricken Fukushima reactor by an underwater robot, the plant's operator said at the end of a three-day inspection.

The incredible stills show large amounts of the solidified lumps on the floor of the primary containment vessel underneath the core of Fukushima's No. 3 reactor for the first time.

Kimoto noted it would take time to confirm whether this debris contains melted fuel.

Locating and analysing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant's three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant.

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Wednesday's probe showed a metallic scaffold, which was placed inside the containment vessel before the disaster, had gone missing. But the rods melted into a puddle and burned through its bottom once the plant lost power after being swamped by the monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released images on Friday evening of a substance dangling like icicles around a control rod drive attached to the bottom of the pressure vessel, reports Efe news.

Although it's been six years since the Japanese natural disaster and tsunami resulted in what many believe was the worst nuclear event since Chernobyl in the 1980s, the melted nuclear fuel debris sightings around Fukushima may be followed up with more revelations. But in the meantime, TEPCO representatives have hinted at further analysis on the melted nuclear fuel deposits found in Fukushima's Unit 3 reactor, while stressing the importance of finding more debris in each damaged reactor, as far as decommissioning is concerned. Removing the fuel is one of the most important steps in a cleanup that may take as long as 40 years. That search, however, failed to ascertain the condition of fuel debris.