The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, an independent (well, duh) committee set up by the Japanese parliament to look into last year's nuclear disaster, just released its official report--and it's pretty damning. In the introduction, the chairman of the commission says the nuclear accident "could and should have been foreseen and prevented."
Tracking down radiation hotspots is tricky and time consuming because it's hard to see where the problem areas are. Radiation doesn't spread itself evenly over an area, and as such it can be hard to find the spots within a contaminated area that require cleanup and differentiate them from the places that do not (typically this is done by walking around waving a handheld meter around, a process that is really, really slow). To simplify the task, Toshiba has developed what it's calling a Portable Gamma Camera that mashes up gamma ray data with image data to create visual radiation heat maps on the fly.
Researchers from Fukushima University in Japan are enlisting the help of some locals to monitor radiation near the damaged nuclear power facility in their prefecture. To get a better read on what kind of radiation levels exist in the forests around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, scientists plan to fit the area’s native wild monkeys with collars containing radiation meters and GPS transponders.
This spring’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant released almost double the amount of radiation the Japanese government has claimed, according to a new analysis. The authors say the boiling pools holding spent fuel rods played a role in the release of some of the contaminants, primarily cesium-137 — and that this could have been mitigated by an earlier response.
[Updated 2:25 p.m.]Honda sent us an e-mail saying the Asahi Shimbun report is "speculative." "Although Honda hopes that ASIMO will someday be a helper to people, at this point the robot is solely a research and design project," a Honda spokeswoman said.
Let the young rebuild Japan, says Yasuteru Yamada, but let the old clean up the most difficult mess leftover from March's devastating earthquake and tsunamis. The 72-year-old former engineer is recruiting other retirees to replace the younger workers currently braving radiation exposure at Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear power complex. It's not a question of bravery or experience, he says, but one of biological logic.
A clever technology is helping hazmat crews in Japan contain and clean up the contamination caused by the ongoing nuclear disaster there: a blue liquid that hardens into a gel that peels off of surfaces, taking microscopic particles like radiation and other contaminants with it. Known as DeconGel, Japanese authorities are using it inside and outside the exclusion zone on everything from pavement to buildings.
Nudging open a door with its extendable arm, a bomb-disposal robot became the first robot to enter a reactor building at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, confirming high radiation levels that are unsafe for humans.