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Robots throw doubt on 'road map' to control Fukushima crisis

Robots found high radiation levels in reactor buildings 1 and 3 Monday, which could make it impossible for workers to enter the Fukushima plant to carry out crucial fixes.


A radio-controlled robot advances inside the No. 3 reactor building of the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Sunday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co./AP

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Robots prowling inside debris-strewn reactor buildings at the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant detected levels of radiation that throw doubt on whether workers will be able to enter the plant for any extended period of time.

The announcement came Monday, just one day after officials unveiled a six-month "road map" for bringing radioactivity under control. Many experts call the road map a necessary step, but optimistic.

Exploring the first floor of the No.1 reactor building for about an hour, a robot provided by a Massachusetts-based company rolled through doors it opened with
its manipulator arms, detecting radiation leaking at a rate of 49 millisieverts per hour. That means a worker could stay in the building for no more than five hours before reaching the lawful annual limit for nuclear workers of 250 millisierverts.

Later, in a two-hour prowl through the No. 3 reactor, one of the robots ran into debris roadblocks and recorded readings of 57 millisieverts per hour, Japanese broadcaster NHK World reported.


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