Robot probes show Japan reactor cleanup worse than expected

Robot probes at one of Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactors have suggested worse-than-anticipated challenges for the plant's ongoing cleanup.

The plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the remote-controlled "scorpion" robot that was sent into a containment vessel Thursday to investigate the core area had failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris. The robot, carrying a dosimeter and two small cameras, transmitted some data and visuals but could not locate melted fuel — key information to determine how to remove debris out of the reactor.

Preliminary examinations detected structural damage to planned robot routes and higher-than-expected radiation, suggesting the need to revise robot designs and probes.

TEPCO is struggling with the plant's decommissioning, which is expected to last decades, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown.



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