Career day at Fukushima

Imagine getting a full day’s pay for only 4 minutes of work! These job opportunities, made possible by the modern miracle of nuclear power, are available today at Fukushima Dai-ichi, the Japanese nuclear power station that blew sky-high after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Today’s adventure takes place at the “shield plug” on the first floor of the unit number three reactor building. The shield plug is a large concrete access hatch that leads into the drywell of the concrete containment vessel. It’s so large and heavy that it’s mounted on rails to permit its opening and closing. It’s circled in red on the diagram below.

Robots were sent into the area last November to survey and the radiation levels were found to be quite high. It was discovered that the rails were filled with liquid and sludge so the robots were used to wipe down the rails in the hope that the radiation levels would be reduced.

Unfortunately however, it appears that the radiation levels may have actually increased after the cleaning!

So here’s the quick little job we have for you. The plug is open, just a crack, and we want you to go there and shove an endoscope camera inside the hatchway so we can have a look.

The radiation levels at the work area are very high so you’ll want to be quick about it, no more than about 4 minutes. That should keep the exposure down to about 10 to 20 millisieverts and then you can take the rest of the day off.

Okay now…ready, set, GO! Run Forrest, run!

See all the static in the video, that’s radiation. Look at how it increases as he approaches the work area. Sure is hot, especially inside the plug.

My hat is off to whoever did this, that takes a special kind of bravery. A brisk walk into the high radiation zone, a quick look inside, and a brisk walk out. Not a great video but considering the circumstances, amazing. I wonder if that blob at the 3:20 mark could be part of the missing corium?

How on earth do you clean up a mess like this? Maybe nuclear power isn’t such a good idea after all. It certainly ain’t clean, safe or cheap, that’s for sure.

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