Japan captures images of melted fuel at Fukushima nuclear plant using robots

Japan captures images of melted fuel at Fukushima nuclear plant using robots

Japan captures images of melted fuel at Fukushima nuclear plant using robots

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Friday conducted its second probe in the space of a week on one of three damaged reactors using an underwater robot.

Experts have said the fuel melted and much of it fell to the chamber's bottom and is now covered by radioactive water as deep as six metres.

TEPCO said the images were the first "highly likely" sighting of melted fuel since the 2011 disaster, when a massive undersea quake sent a huge wave barrelling into Japan's northeast coast.

The three-day investigation of Unit 3 ended on Saturday.

The remote-controlled aquatic robot was introduced on Wednesday in reactor No. 3, in an effort to locate fuel debris inside, an important step of the de-commissioning process.

The disaster killed and missing more than 18,500 people.

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Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a partial nuclear meltdown due to failures of the cooling systems after an natural disaster and tsunami in March 2011.

Decommissioning work has progressed slowly while radiation levels inside the reactors remain extremely high.

According to a separate report from the Japan Times, TEPCO investigators sent another robot into the Unit 2 reactor in January, and while there were black lumps found on the grating of the primary containment vessel, this debris was written off as being "difficult to identify".

The images marked the first confirmation through a robot probe of a large amount of nuclear debris in any of the embattled No. 1 through No. 3 reactors.

It also discovered that the nuclear fuel debris has spread throughout the containment vessel. However, a follow-up survey by another Toshiba-designed robot in February failed to confirm the location of any melted fuel in the reactor after it got stuck in debris.

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