Video: Inside the Fukushima Reactor

Share:

January 20, 2012

In an attempt to look at the damage inside one of its failed Fukushima reactors, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) inserted an 8.5mm remote-controlled endoscope and thermometer into the containment vessel of a failed reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The footage, which you can see above, is the first interior view of the disabled reactor unit 2, one of three reactors that failed in March 2011. As The Japan Times explains:

Obtaining a clearer picture inside the containment vessels of the three crippled reactors is critically important, as the vessels are the last line of defense containing their melted nuclear fuel.

In particular, TEPCO needs to find out about the state of the melted nuclear fuel at the reactor cores, the level of coolant water and the extent of the damage to the containment vessels.

The endoscope is unlikely to help Tepco to determine the state of the melted nuclear fuel, much of which is believed to have burned down to the bottom of the containment vessels, but will hopefully shed some light on coolant water levels and internal damage.

The probe revealed corroded piping and dripping humidity, but did not reveal the water’s surface level, which TEPCO had expected to be as high as four meters. The containment vessel was flooded with seawater during the reactor meltdown when other attempts to cool it failed. Current water levels inside the reactor remain unknown.

The probe’s thermometer function proved more revealing; it recorded the interior temperature at 44.7 degrees centigrade (112 degrees Farenheit), demonstrating that the unit’s own thermometer, thought to be off by as many as 20 degrees, is still functioning accurately.

Steam and radiation affected the quality of the video, but you can see gamma rays — which are detected by the camera in a manner similar to light but not focused by the lens — in the footage looking like streaks and flashes.


In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

A Look at Colin Powell’s Legacy, Following His Death at 84
Colin Powell, who was America’s first Black secretary of state, died Oct. 18 at age 84. FRONTLINE traced his roles in shaping the Gulf War and then the Iraq War.
October 18, 2021
Shooting Not to Kill. This Utah Case Fuels a Debate That Frustrates Police.
If there’s nothing barring officers from shooting someone in the leg or arm, it raises a question many civilians wonder about: Why don’t officers, if possible, shoot a suspect there, instead of in the chest or head? It’s a question that frustrates and annoys many in law enforcement.
October 18, 2021
PANDORA PAPERS: Video & Major Stories From Our Partners
Watch the trailer for an upcoming FRONTLINE investigation into the Pandora Papers, exposing how U.S. trusts are sheltering millions in controversial assets, and read major stories from our ICIJ partners.
October 17, 2021
Former Boeing 737 Max Pilot Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Grand Jury Indictment
Mark Forkner’s role at Boeing leading up to the crashes that killed 346 people was detailed by The New York Times and FRONTLINE in ‘Boeing’s Fatal Flaw.’
October 15, 2021