By Riyaz ul Khaliq
Japan has started to investigate the failed nuclear power plant in Fukushima, media reports said on Wednesday.
Scientists at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which supplied electricity to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station launched the probe on Wednesday, daily The Mainichi reported.
The probe will try to make the first contact with nuclear fuel debris inside the No. 2 reactor at the nuclear power station in the northeastern Fukushima, the news report said.
In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit the Fukushima triggering plant meltdown of the three nuclear reactors “after their cooling systems failed”.
The earthquake generated a massive tsunami which cut off the power.
The Japanese government and TEPCO decided last year to select the first reactor at the Fukushima station from which molten nuclear fuel remains would be extracted, the news report said.
Tens of hundreds of the nearby residents had to flee their homes as the damaged reactors released a massive amount of radioactive materials into the air.
“The examination [of the debris] using a remotely operated device, which began shortly after 7 a.m. (2200GMT Tuesday), will try to hold and lift the debris and check its status on the floor of the reactor's containment vessel,” according to the Mainichi.
It said that the device has two roughly 3-centimeter-long (1.18 inches) "fingers" -- capable of holding an object up to 2 kilograms in weight -- attached to its 30-centimeter-long (11.8 inches), camera-mounted tip.
“The equipment was placed inside the vessel via a pipe that can be expanded from 11 meters (36 feet) to 15 meters (49 feet) in length. The debris will remain inside the reactor throughout the test,” it said.