International

Endoscope Captures First Glimpse Inside Crippled Japanese Reactor

This photo, taken by a remote-controlled endoscope and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows structures assumed to be small size piping or cable conduit inside the beaker-shaped containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. i i

This photo, taken by a remote-controlled endoscope and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows structures assumed to be small size piping or cable conduit inside the beaker-shaped containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Tepco/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Tepco/AP
This photo, taken by a remote-controlled endoscope and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows structures assumed to be small size piping or cable conduit inside the beaker-shaped containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

This photo, taken by a remote-controlled endoscope and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows structures assumed to be small size piping or cable conduit inside the beaker-shaped containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Tepco/AP

The images are blurred by steam and obscured by radiation. But they are the first look we've gotten inside Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor that was crippled by a tsunami last year.

As the AP reports, the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company, took its first look using an endoscope or a remote-control camera. Some of the clearer images show metal surfaces that have become rusty because of the months of heat and humidity they've endured. The inner wall of the container has also been heavily damaged.

The camera recorded the inside of the No. 2 reactor for about 30 minutes and Tepco officials learned two main things: The temperature inside was 112.5 degrees Fahrenheit, about what they were expecting. But the amount of water inside the reactor "appears to be less than what has been estimated up to now," Tepco official Junichi Matsumoto told Reuters.

The amount of water in the reactors is a big deal, because that is what's cooling the reactors and will eventually get them to a stable level.

But we found the pictures themselves fascinating. Take a look at this one:

This photo taken by a remote-controlled endoscope shows structures assumed to be piping inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. i i

This photo taken by a remote-controlled endoscope shows structures assumed to be piping inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Tepco/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Tepco/AP
This photo taken by a remote-controlled endoscope shows structures assumed to be piping inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

This photo taken by a remote-controlled endoscope shows structures assumed to be piping inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Tepco/AP

The AP explains that the static you see is actually electronic interference caused by the radiation. The other reactors, if you're wondering, are still too radioactive to allow for this kind of exploration.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.