A second robot from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) sent into Fukushima's unit 2 reactor collapsed in less than a month's time due to high radiation levels.
Less than two weeks ago, a robot that ventured into the reactor malfunctioned as the camera on it had been fried by record high levels of radiation just two hours after it started scrapping in the area. The extremely high radiation levels inside the reactor have now left the second robot, Scorpio, malfunctioning so much so that Tepco decided to cut off its tether and leave it inside.
Fukushima's nuclear site which witnessed a major nuclear accident caused by the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami is largely contained but the unit 2 reactor is among the areas where radiation levels are at unimaginable levels. In early February, the radiation levels inside the reactor reached an astonishing 530 sieverts per hour, a level high enough to kill a human within seconds.
The latest robot victim of the radiation was manufactured by Toshiba and was on a mission to investigate the pedestal underneath the reactor, where melted nuclear fuel is suspected to have fallen. Engineers now suspect as the robot was approaching the core of the explosion almost 10 feet away from its target its tank-like treads got stuck. Although Tepco has not confirmed whether it was the debris or the radiation that stopped the robot, it is currently under investigation.
Tepco has an enormous task of removing the molten radioactive fuel from three of the four reactors but this is the seventh robot to be affected by the radiation and the first to go as close as it went to the core of the explosion.
"Even though the robot could not reach the pedestal area, which we had initially planned to investigate, valuable information was obtained which will help us determine the methods to eventually remove fuel debris," Tepco said.
It has been clarified both by Tepco and the Japanese government that the radiation is contained for rest of the area and outside the reactors, the public is not at risk.