TEPCO Plans to Use Drones for Close Examination Inside Fukushima No. 1 Plant

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., also known as TEPCO, has unveiled a groundbreaking plan to use small drones for an extensive investigation inside the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant containment vessel. The highly anticipated investigation is scheduled to commence in February, marking a significant step in understanding the extent of damage caused by the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Previous investigations using underwater robots at the No. 1 plant have revealed considerable damage to the lower part of the cylindrical reinforced concrete pedestal that supports the reactor. In a bid to further scrutinize the interior, TEPCO has made the decision to deploy lightweight drones weighing a mere 185 grams. The plan involves the sequential flight of four drones, capturing approximately eight minutes of video footage from various angles. This innovative approach aims to gather three-dimensional data and provide a comprehensive assessment of the inner workings of the containment vessel.

In a parallel development, TEPCO has also confirmed the discovery of uranium in the sediment collected near the pedestal by the underwater robots in January and February of this year. The presence of uranium is believed to be a remnant of the nuclear fuel dispersed during the catastrophic accident a decade ago. This revelation underscores the ongoing challenges in cleaning up and decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, adding to the urgency of comprehensive investigations to inform future strategies for the site.

The use of drones in the forthcoming investigation represents a significant technological leap in the quest to gain a deeper understanding of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s current condition. The decision to deploy small drones reflects the growing reliance on cutting-edge technology to navigate the complex challenges posed by the aftermath of the 2011 disaster. Moreover, the revelation of uranium in the sediment near the pedestal underscores the long-lasting impacts of the accident, underscoring the need for sustained efforts to address the environmental and safety concerns associated with the decommissioning process.

The upcoming drone-led investigation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is set to draw widespread attention from experts, policymakers, and the public alike, as it promises to shed new light on the ongoing efforts to address the aftermath of one of the most devastating nuclear disasters in history. As the world awaits the findings from this groundbreaking initiative, the use of advanced technology and scientific expertise in navigating the complexities of nuclear cleanup and decommissioning will undoubtedly continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the Fukushima site and informing broader discussions around nuclear safety and disaster management.


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