On March 11, 2011, Japan was on the unfortunate receiving end of a domino line of disasters. First there was an earthquake, which caused a tsunami. This in turn caused a still ongoing nuclear disaster, as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant gave in to the rage of the elements. This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns and radioactive contamination which marked the worst such event since Chernobyl. The Tohoku earthquake and its assorted horrors claimed the lives of almost 16,000 people (not counting the missings). The Fukushima disaster forced 160,000 people to evacuate.
The Fukushima disaster’s cleanup is a bit of a nightmare. Japan has been unwilling to build a Chernobyl-style “sarcophagus” around the plant, opting instead for other methods to study, contain, and eventually clean up the site. A major challenge has been that the plant’s debris and reactors are extremely dangerous to humans, which is why Japan has taken to fighting its radiation-related disaster woes with robots.
Authorities have been using specially equipped robots with names like “Scorpion” and “Warrior” to roam the radioactive ruins of Fukushima, in the hopes that they could locate and hopefully ultimately remove the radioactive fuel within. However, so far, the disaster is winning. Robot missions keep failing as hitherto unexpected radiation levels blast them and break their systems. The area has already devoured “at least” seven robots, and authorities are starting to get pretty desperate.
Fortunately, there’s still a chance that Japan will win the fight against monstrous radioactivity. Recently, a new robot has been introduced to the Fukushima battlefield: Little Sunfish, an unassuming-looking swimming robot that has managed to navigate the radiation-riddled maze of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, and may even have succeeded to locate some of the radioactive fuel.
And like that, Japan just might be back in the fight against Fukushima radiation. Well this is why I hope for them and for US.