Endoscope Captures First Glimpse Inside Crippled Japanese Reactor

Jan 19, 2012
Originally published on January 19, 2012 12:47 pm

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:

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.

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