The news from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant seems to get worse day-by-day, more than a year after the calamitous earthquake, tsunami and subsequent multiple meltdowns at the site. Because levels of radioactivity have reached 73 sieverts per hour in the reactor 2 containment structure, it is no longer safe for human beings to enter the wreckage. According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company, owners of the plant, "People exposed to such high levels of radiation in just a minute would become nauseous and could die within a month." Uh oh.....
Earlier reports about efforts to contain the disaster waxed enthusiastic about wonderful new robots that could withstand levels of radiation far in excess of what humans can endure. Yes, we have the technology! Here's one such account from last November.
Unique video sequences, authorized by Tokyo Electrical Company (TEPCO), have been published by Japanese Robonable showing U.S. military robots operating inside Unite 3 reactor building at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The iRobot PackBots are preparing for the establishment of a system to reduce gas pressure in the reactor containment vessel. A similar system had been installed in Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the damaged nuclear reactor leading to reduction of emissions of radioactive material.
Alas, hopes of this kind have been dashed. Current levels of radioactivity at Fukushima quickly destroy the smart, durable military robots sent in to hoist the plant's simmering trash. In a report from The Epoch Times:
Even robots, endoscopes, and other devices cannot be deployed inside of the containment chamber, because the high radiation would render them useless, the company said. Radiation can damage computer chips and alter images taken via cameras.
The radiation levels are the highest discovered by the company since the plant was crippled during the earthquake and tsunami a year ago.
Like many of the actual and brewing disasters of our times, the predicament could prove to be a godsend for research and "innovation." "TEPCO spokesperson Junichi Matsumoto noted that the company needs to develop devices and robots that are resistant to high levels of radiation."
So get those grant proposals written, folks! Think of it as boost for the great "Singularity" and its contributions to the "Next Generation of Nuclear Power" just around the corner (or is it "coroner"?).