Drone Captures First Images From Inside Fukushima’s Nuclear Power Plant

Unprecedented drone images shows inside Unit 1 in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A drone assisted by a snake-like robot has captured the first images from inside the Fukushima nuclear power plant since its meltdown disaster 13 years ago.

The nuclear plant’s operators Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) released 12 photos and drone footage from inside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima in Japan.

The drone, which was sent to the site in March, was the first camera to capture the extent of the devastation from inside the containment structure of reactor No.1, the hardest-hit of its six reactors in the nuclear accident of March 2011.


 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant drone images

Officials had long hoped to reach the area to examine the core and melted nuclear fuel which dripped there when the plant’s cooling systems were damaged by a massive earthquake and a 130-foot tsunami that devastated the Fukushima region of Japan.

However, previous attempts at sending cameras to safely see the heart of reactor No.1 had failed.

A Unique Drone and a Snake-Like Robot

According to Business Insider, TEPCO finally managed to capture footage from inside the nuclear power plant using mini drones, assisted by a snake-like robot that could shine light ahead of it.

The lightweight drone was specially designed by TEPCO to squeeze into the first floor of reactor No.1.

The eerie images captured by the drone show various shapes and sizes dangling from various locations in the pedestal.

TEPCO officials said they were unable to tell from the images whether the dangling lumps were melted fuel or melted equipment without obtaining other data such as radiation levels.

The drone was unable to carry dosimeters to measure radiation because the camera device was designed to be light and nimble.

The drone was also unable to reach the bottom of the core, a setback due in part to the darkness and poor visibility from inside the nuclear power plant.

Using the new drone images and footage, it is hoped that engineers could develop robots to safely remove the melted fuel — a process that could take another decade.

It is believed that around 880 tons of highly radioactive melted nuclear fuel remain inside the three damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

TEPCO is attempting to learn more about its location and condition to facilitate its removal so the plant can be decommissioned.

Image credits: All photos by TEPCO.