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Found: Melted Uranium Rods, Lost at Fukushima

Six years after the disaster, Tepco may have found its lost nuclear debris.

A shot of Fukushima from 2011.
A shot of Fukushima from 2011. naturalflow/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Fukushima nuclear disaster happened in 2011; now, almost six years later, Tepco, the company responsible for the plant, thinks it may have found lost nuclear fuel debris in one of the reactors, Reuters reports.

The company says it may have detected damaged uranium rods below the No. 2 reactor, which was destroyed in the tsunami that followed the 2011 earthquake.

Those rods are melted and highly radioactive. Tesco says its robots spotted “a black lump of material” that may be the fuel.

If the company has located the fuel, it still needs a plan to clean it up. As Reuters reports, Tepco has been using robots to approach the radioactive site, but “as soon as the robots get close to the reactors, the radiation destroys their wiring and renders them useless.” Estimated costs for the clean-up are now at $188 billion.