back to article FUKE NEWS: Robot snaps inside drowned Fukushima nuke plant

TEPCO, the operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, has revealed photos of the facility's flooded interior. The company sent an aqua-bot into the Reactor Containment Container of Fukushima's Unit 3 last week, revealing grainy images such as the one below. Unit 3 Reactor Containment Container CRD Housing …

  1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Coat

    So..

    No sign of Blinky then?

    - Mines the one with 'Fishing times' in the pocket

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want Godzilla, this is how you get Godzilla (other Kaiju may appear instead)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I want Mosura

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Wouldn't be Godzilla, though, because he came from the deep ocean and dragged up trilobites along the way.

      Just need an Oxygen Destroyer and we're all set.

      1. Ochib

        Dr. Serizawa white courtesy phone, Dr Daisuke Serizawa, white courtesy phone. No, the white phone

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Grinding for legendary Pokemon gets harder every year.

  3. Fred M

    Orange

    "images like the one below show nuclear fuel – possibly the orange blotches - spread around the debris"

    If the Simpsons have taught us anything, it's that nuclear fuel is green (and, if I remember correctly. that it's pronounced "nucular").

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Orange

      Perhaps Simpsons green looks rusty orange in the lighting condition in those pictures?

  4. wolfetone

    Coming Soon

    Free X-Ray's at Fukushima!

    Just dip your body part in to the water and you're done.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Grainy images?

    In this day and age? I thought they were reserved for pictures of UFOs and Bigfoot.

    1. silks

      Re: Grainy images?

      Probably grainy as the photo-enabled robots keep breaking down due to radioactivity levels - apparently breaking down much quicker than expected. Tough environment to take a photo there!

    2. malle-herbert

      Re: Grainy images?

      And the fact that radiation messes with the optical sensor of the camera...

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime
        Boffin

        Re: Grainy images?

        Yup, whod've thunked it, a electromagnetic radiation sensor affected by high energy electromagnetic radiation.

        Mind, it is hard to get a filter for gamma rays that lets through visible light...

        1. oldcoder

          Re: Grainy images?

          A mirror works quite well for that... put the camera in a lead box with a view of the camera - then put a lead backing around the mirror.

          So long as there is no direct line between the camera sensor and the radiation source, visible light is appropriately filtered of radiation.

    3. adam payne Silver badge

      Re: Grainy images?

      The radiation would be affecting the camera.

      Similar things happened when people were taking pictures at Chernobyl.

      1. Nolveys
        Boffin

        Re: Grainy images?

        Similar things happened when people were taking pictures at Chernobyl.

        That's why you don't use a camera to examine the elephant's foot, it's far better to use your tongue instead.

    4. Peter Clarke 1
      Holmes

      Re: Grainy images?

      Just give it to your fave TV Investigation Team and 'someone they know at NASA' will be able to get a perfect 10x12 photo of the perp from 4 pixels

    5. W4YBO

      Re: Grainy images?

      Just curious, but why wouldn't heavily leaded glass (old CRTs) work as a lens? Those were pretty good at blocking X-rays, but I don't have any idea what it would do with more energetic photons.

      1. Steve Hersey

        Raadiation energy is too high to shield with leaded glass

        The X-rays that got filtered out by ~1 cm of leaded glass in a CRT faceplate had energies of up to 25 KeV max. based on the TV's 25 KV anode voltage. That's pretty soft for X-rays.

        The radiation making it through the water at Fukushima (ignoring suspended or dissolved radionuclides for the moment) is essentially all gamma rays, with orders of magnitude higher energy than CRT X-rays. As a result, leaded glass lenses wouldn't block enough of it to notice.

        The other thing to keep in mind about radiation shielding, aside from having to shield your electronics from all angles, is that its effect is exponential rather than linear. If 1 cm of solid lead reduces exposure from a particular source by 50%, another 1 cm will only cut THAT dose by another 50% (= 25% of the original incoming dose), so twice the shielding thickness doesn't get you twice the effectiveness. Takeaway is this: Effectively shielding sensitive electronics from high radiation levels requires really bulky, massive hunks of stuff, or else staying far enough away that 1/R^2 is your friend.

      2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: Grainy images?

        It might help, but the radiation isn't just coming through the lens, I would guess. Adding enough shielding to block all gamma rays might be impossible due to weight constraints. The X-rays blocked by CRT tubes are rather less energetic than these gamma rays, I think (10s of keV vs >100 keV, AFAIK)

        Edit: I see I should speed-up my typing ;-)

        Doffs hat to Steve Hersey!

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Grainy images?

        the tenth-thickness for pure lead is about 1 inch. for leaded glass, several inches. 'Tenth thickness' refers to the amount of material it needs to cut radiation levels down to 1/10 of what they were without the shielding.

        "do the math" and I think you'll see that shielding could be effective, but not perfect.

    6. Tom Paine Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Grainy images?

      I hear there are whole websites devoted to them, actually.

      ...oh GRAINY pictures! My bad, reading too quickly...

  6. Peter Prof Fox

    Industrial strength endoscope?

    Surely rather than send in lots of electronics, you have a hydraulic tractor head controlled from a less hostile environment, a drag pipe and an inner optical fibre. The snake will surely have a lot longer life than a robot. Then your pipe remains there so you can go back again and again to monitor developments.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Industrial strength endoscope?

      actually, using a really long "snakeable" fiber optic cable with a lens on it might be the best solution...

    2. I.S.

      Re: Industrial strength endoscope?

      One issue with glass in radioactive environments is that it becomes opaque with exposure to ionizing radiation, and the higher the ionizing energy the quicker the darkening.

  7. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Ooh! Argh! This is very bad! Badder than bad! Whoever is responsible should be dipped in boiling wait, this isn't the systemd bitchfest?

    As you were.

    1. hord

      Re: Bah!

      That's how you know how bad systemd is. It is so toxic it can be confused for radioactive waste on an industrial scale.

      As you were.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        now, now gentlemen. Don't insult the toxic waste.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Time for some clever industrial design.

    Obviously the challenges of getting anything to work in that sort of environment are horrific. But someone is going to have to think up the machines that can work there, otherwise how will they ever get it dismantled? I think we need some sort of international organisation that has lots of big and rugged machines that can cope with any environment, permanently at the ready to go to the rescue after some major emergency. Best locate it somewhere neutral, ideally near the equator. Nice tropical island somewhere?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

      Are they actually planning to dismantle it, or will they try to entomb it like Cernobyl? If they dismantle it, they have the problem of transporting and storing many tons of highly radioactive waste. If they entomb it they don't have the transportation problem, and the storage problem consists of "let's keep this stuff where it is as much as possible".

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

        Are they actually planning to dismantle it, or will they try to entomb it like Cernobyl?

        Usually with reactors you *have* to entomb for a while, just to let radioactive decay reduce the activity of everything to levels you can handle. Entombing is much harder when the plant's already destroyed and contaminated, of course.

        Here's a more typical one we prepared earlier: http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/CReactor

        Under normal conditions they de-fuel the reactor, then remove/demolish all the auxiliary equipment and structures, leaving the core. They seal up the building openings and put a roof on it to keep the rain out. Then they wait 70 years or so for it to "cool" before they take it apart.

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

          Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

          Problem with kids today, always wanting instant gratification.

          Put a fence around it (for given values of "fence"), and come back "when its done".

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

        Entombing isn't an option, due to the site's proximity to sea and local movements of (now highly radioactive) ground water. Fukashima is way more complex and difficult a situation than Chernobyl. Four reactors on site, for a start, three of which are basically rubble.

        Thank goodness all those UK and French reactors at sea level for easy access to cooling water won't have to worry about tsunami or rising sea levels during the lifetime of the onsite radioactive structures, eh?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storegga_Slide

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215131551.htm

        Still, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. After all, SLR stops dead in 2100, right? All the scenarios and charts do, anyway...

    2. Mark Dempster

      Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

      >Obviously the challenges of getting anything to work in that sort of environment are horrific. But someone is going to have to think up the machines that can work there, otherwise how will they ever get it dismantled? I think we need some sort of international organisation that has lots of big and rugged machines that can cope with any environment, permanently at the ready to go to the rescue after some major emergency. Best locate it somewhere neutral, ideally near the equator. Nice tropical island somewhere?<

      I think such an organisation would be much more focussed on saving lives, & not worry very much about cleaning up afterwards.

      1. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

        @ Mark Dempster

        Tropical Island, you say.

        Have you considered the dangers of mutant white cats?

        >>

    3. biscuit
      Joke

      Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

      I don't think this would go down well with some governments. At the very least there'd be strings attached.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

        The reason there isn't good equipment that can deal with this is that all the manufacturers in the field have been concentrating their efforts on battle-hardened equipment that can deal with catastrophic failures in wind farms, solar farms, and tidal generation schemes.

        Oh... Wait a minute.... Never mind, more nuclear power in the UK! (let's site the bastards in the centre of London - that's where the power requirement is, after all)

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

          The nearest reactors to London are at Bradwell and Dungeness; working out how far those are from London, and the prevailing wind directions, are left as an exercuse for the chippy northern commentard...

    4. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

      Parker, go ask Brains If we should put pod 3 or pod 4 in the boot of the Rolls.

      After all, we wouldn't want to risk TB2 in that kind of environment.

      >>

  9. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Fuke news indeed

    You promised me an insane robot, I demand an insane robot.

    1. b0llchit
      Pint

      Re: Fuke news indeed

      It said "beep"... Once, just before it died.

      1. PNGuinn
        Alien

        Re: Fuke news indeed

        "It said "beep"... Once, just before it died."

        Diodes, I presume.

        Was It depressed?

        1. Robert Moore
          Thumb Up

          Re: Fuke news indeed

          "It said "beep"... Once, just before it died."<BR>

          Diodes, I presume.<BR>

          Was It depressed?<BR>

          Only the diodes on his left side.<BR>

          <BR>

          Thumb for obvious reasons.

  10. scrubber
    Mushroom

    Go nuclear

    Fukushima: the best advert for nuclear power ever.

    Outdated design, earthquake out with specs and the only issue was not having an air supply for emergency generators above the wave. And NO-ONE died! Modern facilities are ten times as safe and could withstand a plane strike. Nuclear power now!

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Go nuclear

      What "modern facilities"? In the US our "newest" reactor was designed in 1973 and finally opened for production last year, using a design very similar to Fukishima's. This doesn't seem like an industry that is interested in moving forward.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Go nuclear

        "What 'modern facilities'? In the US our "newest" reactor was designed in 1973 and finally opened for production last year"

        ACK - the "no nukes" wanna-clue enviro-fascists have, unfortunately, been WAY too successful. you know, like THESE IDIOTS.

        I wonder if Trump will try to reverse that? I think he might...

        A power plant out on the west coast (San Onofre) was shut down because the N.R.C. refused to approve running it at reduced power while they solved problems with a "new design" boiler. They had 2 running reactors with this new boiler, but it rattled to much internally and one of them started to leak (the other was shut down for maintenance). So they shut down and investigated. It was looking like a design flaw, and they wanted to reduce power to keep one of them doing SOMETHING while they did a refit on the other unit, etc. (radiation that was being released was WAY below the legal limit). BUT... N.R.C. wouldn't let them. Because, ENVIRO WACKOS!

        So what did S.C.E. do? They CLOSED! THE! PLANT! ENTIRELY! laying off 100's of staff and leaving everything in-place as an ad hoc "radioactive storage site".

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station#Initial_shutdown

        This happened during the OBAKA administration, in case anyone wondered, 2012-ish.

      2. Public Citizen
        FAIL

        Re: Go nuclear

        The problem isn't with the Nuclear Industry, its with the bureaucrats who are mortally in fear of having a Fukushima Level Event in their backyard, and the hordes of pitchfork waving eco-phreak peasants who show up whenever the N Word is mentioned.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Go nuclear

          Ahhh that poxy population who will insist on having opinions of their own. Time to end the disastrous democratic experiment!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: could withstand a plane strike

      Yet according to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) burning aviation fuel will melt steel and cause concrete to crumble. Then there's the Pentagon penetration, how many concrete walls did that plane punch through. So unless the 9/11 report is a work of fiction then surely every nuclear power plant is insanely vulnerable to this kind of attack?

    3. cyberdemon
      Holmes

      Re: Go nuclear

      See icon.

      Unfortunately the vast majority of the population would apparently prefer to die a slow death from nanoparticulate emissions from coal and diesel. Or boil in their skins when the power goes off and the air conditioning stops. Or be incinerated by their own lithium-ion backup battery. Or be crushed to death in an all-too-common 'freak' accident involving a wind turbine.. (those things are huge, and have been known to come off their shafts, roll down hillsides and demolish schools/villages)

      The alternatives to nuclear power are far more dangerous - but human psychology ignores the frequency of minor disasters and obsesses over extremely unlikely major ones that have yet to happen. See road vs. air travel, etc etc.

      The reason that most reasonable people who are opposed to nuclear power give, is that it is too expensive. However my counter to that, is that it is because politicians are obsessed with making the public feel safe, while being ignorant of the psychology that says people see something with a lot of safety controls and assume it must be super dangerous.

      This idiocy can be summed up in one acronym: ALARA. This is the belligerently lazy regulatory principle that governs emissions of radiation into the environment. Basically, nobody has defined a safe limit (not even the natural background that we have received from the sun/earth for all of the millions of years that us mammals have been on this planet) - so nuclear operators must keep emissions "As Low As Reasonably Achievable". Meaning if some elf'n'safety parasite comes along with some new way to reduce your radiation dose to staff/public, even if they were already orders of magnitude below background, you are legally obliged to do it. Cost is specifically exempted as an excuse.

      This regulation only applies to nuclear power. The fact that a coal power station of the same generation capacity puts out more radioactivity up its smoke stack thanks to trace amounts of Radon gas in coal, is apparently of no consequence.

      If only the IAEA would pull their finger out and define a safe limit for radiation exposure.. Considering evidence from Japan I expect they would be surprised and embarrassed. There's even a reasonable body of evidence to say that very low doses of radiation are actually beneficial to long-term health, which challenges the ridiculous "linear no-threshold" model..

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Go nuclear

        @cyberdemon:

        Immediately following ALARA, is "OMG sooo much nuclear waste". Part of the technology coming into play in *non breeder* reactors is consuming currently available waste products stored in (temporary) facilities all over the globe. The current stockpile of death we can absolutely blame on the nuclear arms race mentality under which the core of the nuclear power industry in both the NATO and Soviet block countries was originally designed.

        Finally, if we want to *EVER* consider fusion over fission, we will *still* need a couple of fission plants attached to the fusion plant, just to get it spinning.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Go nuclear

        My God. I was reading your post and I literally thought "at this rate he's going to start saying radiation is good for us."

        Then you ended with:" There's even a reasonable body of evidence to say that very low doses of radiation are actually beneficial to long-term health, "

        *facepalm*

        And to think people actually upvoted your propaganda/onion article.

        1. Bad Beaver

          Re: Go nuclear

          > And to think people actually upvoted your propaganda/onion article.

          Maybe they exeeded the beneficial dose.

          Personally, I'd say the odd ill-engineered windmill squishing the odd cow is a very local event, followed by swift and complete cleanup. Compared to global-scale pollution from a site lost for generations, if not forever, that even after years of attempted containment is still cooking robots for breakfast… oh well, it really does not compare that well. Maybe he should try coal next time when he wants to shine the fission-turd, that works much better.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Go nuclear

          "And to think people actually upvoted your propaganda/onion article."

          Actually, he IS correct; without radiation causing the odd mutation, we would never have evolved in the first place; that and the fact we NEED sunlight to make vitamin D.

          (sunlight being radiation)

          Did you fall for that scam about irradiated foods a couple of decades ago?? The radiation was UV, or intense sunlight to you.

          1. Bad Beaver

            Re: Go nuclear

            > without radiation causing the odd mutation, we would never have evolved in the first place;

            Observing the current state of affairs, one might call into question whether this actually qualifies as beneficial. Also, comparing natural levels of radiation that our miserable species has adapted to with a reactor meltdown seems ever so slightly off.

            1. cyberdemon
              Mushroom

              Re: Go nuclear

              @bad_beaver:

              > Also, comparing natural levels of radiation that our miserable species has adapted to with a reactor meltdown seems ever so slightly off

              I'm not so much talking about the immediate vicinity of a meltdown - that's probably quite dangerous (although the 'Fukushima 50' are all still alive, and 'the most radioactive man in britain' who gazed down the piles of Windscale while it was on fire and was subsequently banned from touching his wife/kids, lived to a ripe old age) - I'm talking about low-level emissions into the global environment - which are far more costly to control than meltdowns.

              ALARA says that ANY emission, no matter how small (even a microgram of tritium up your air extraction stack) must be mitigated as far as reasonably achievable (i.e. to the Nth degree). Most 'low level' nuclear waste is actually just barrels of paper overalls. When a worker goes into a "potentially radioactive" area (i.e. there is no radiation detectable here, but just in case - ALARA you know) then they wear disposable paper overalls. New ones every time they go in. What happens to the used overalls? Well they MIGHT be contaminated. So they are then very expensive low-level "nuclear" waste. Such is the hyperbole of ALARA.

              Meanwhile, open-air nuclear BOMB testing was happening regularly up until about 1990. This released uncountable orders-of-magnitude more than any nuclear power plant could, meltdown or not, straight into the global environment.

              Yet power plants get slapped in the face for releasing the odd GBq of tritium. (Bequerels as a unit makes everything sound bad because it is so tiny - it literally means one atom decay per second. There is about 1GBq tritium in your average glow-in-the-dark keyring)

              The trouble with radiation, really, is that it is invisible yet eminently detectable. Your enviro-hippie can come along with a detector and say LOOK- RADIATION - It's all over the place and it's coming from THAT PLANT. Is it dangerous? You've only got him to ask..

              1. Orv Silver badge

                Re: Go nuclear

                I'd argue that the reason there's so much cultural distrust of nuclear plant operators is that people were lied to by the military for so long about radiation and its effects. Stories about the people who lived downwind of Hanford and Rocky Flats, who were sometimes INTENTIONALLY exposed to nuclear releases during secret studies, do not reassure people that they're getting straight answers to their questions. Incidents like FirstEnergy's reactor vessel corrosion problems also don't grant much assurance that these plants are properly maintained and operated with due care. "Trust us" just doesn't carry much weight when the stakes are so high.

                I think, if asked if I'd rather live near a nuclear plant or a coal plant, I'd still pick the nuke plant...but I'd have to think about it for a while if I were in a seismic or tidal inundation zone. It's not so much the plant itself I'd worry about, it's the spent fuel pools.

          2. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Go nuclear

            (sunlight being radiation)

            Yeah, the damn reactor's 90 million miles away, and it's STILL giving us cancer. ;)

          3. Tom Paine Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Go nuclear

            Jesus, what bollocks.

            Neither wouild we be here if a 10km asteroid hadn't sterilised most of the northern hemisphere. By your logic it would be great news if that happened again tomorrow.

            TBPH, the more commentards I expose myself to (here and other places) the more inclined I am to think that's right...

        3. cyberdemon
          Devil

          Re: Go nuclear

          @AC: My point is, low-dose ionising radiation is a hell of a lot better for us than most people (including yourself apparently) seem to think it is. As I say, we have lived with it on this planet for millions of years. Life has evolved to cope with it. Nanoparticles, on the other hand, have only been around for a few hundred years. Nor has CO2 ever been this high since some mass-extinction event.

          Why do we close nuclear when the alternatives are so much worse?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Go nuclear

            > @AC: My point is, low-dose ionising radiation is a hell of a lot better for us than

            > most people (including yourself apparently) seem to think it is.

            Nope. I understand and agree with you on this, my point was that it was such a cliched and irrelevant comment to put into a post about high level radiation.

            Sort of like ending an article about child abuse with "Won't someone think of the children?"

          2. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Go nuclear

            The idea that low-dose radiation is beneficial was popular in the early 1920s, and led to patent medicines like Radiothor. These turned out to be quite lethal over the long haul, and the idea that radiation is healthy hasn't gotten much traction since.

            The thing is, even low-dose ionizing radiation seems capable of causing cancer. That's the reason there's no stated acceptable dose for the general public. You'd have to decide how much of an increase in cancer rates is acceptable, and that's not a discussions anyone's eager to have.

    4. Tom Paine Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Go nuclear

      I can't tell what's satire and what isn't. You couldn't possibly be being serious, could you?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Containment Container"

    is there any other type of container?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      sorta...

      "broken container"?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      is there any other type of container?

      Leaky container - contents are increasingly witnessed being outside container.

      Empty container - unless you submit that plain air is a worthwhile substance to contain.

      Open container - actually not much of a container, is it?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza...

  12. Aqua Marina

    I thought the published opinion of Fukushima on el-reg was "Nothing to see here, move along". Did something happen to change that view?

    1. Bad Beaver

      At the rate the site obliterates the camera-bots there truly is not much to see, I guess.

  13. handleoclast
    Coat

    It all makes sense now

    The Knightscope K5 didn't fall into the pond and it wasn't pushed into the pond. It wanted to apply for a job at Fukushima and tried to demonstrate it had what it takes to dive into the radioactive waters.

  14. 404

    I wonder...

    Since they finally figured out how the Romans made their concrete, which is superior to Portland cement - why not build reactors with it?

    just a random thought...

  15. Pat Att

    "Fukushima is a great success"

    I paraphrase, but wasn't it something like this that Lewis Page said of Fukushima after the tsunami struck it? I still chuckle at his take on things there.

  16. thexfile
    Alert

    CDC

    Someone need ask for CDC records on 'lymph node cancer' rates.. Iodized Salt is your friend!

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