Engineers at Tokyo Electric Power Company decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are hoping a tiny camera will show them where melted fuel is located inside the crippled No. 2 reactor.
The camera is the latest bit of technology TEPCO engineers are pinning their hopes on. They want to insert it inside Fukushima Daiichi's No.2 reactor containment vessel for the first time, and they can finally learn whether the fuel is inside, or whether it has penetrated through.
It's a question they've been asking since 2011. Three of the plant's reactors melted down that March, following a powerful earthquake and tsunami. High radiation levels have prevented anyone from going inside to find the molten fuel.
Experts believe it may have mixed with structures at the bottom of the containment vessels and formed "fuel debris" and on Tuesday, they hoped to catch a glimpse inside. But early on, they ran into trouble and had to reschedule.
Over the years, various remote-controlled robots have been sent inside the 3 reactors, but they haven't gotten any clear pictures yet of fuel debris.
TEPCO plans to send in another robot to Reactor 2 next month. The utility hopes to be able to analyze results from this research, and create a plan for removing debris by summer.
But it will be a long road -- they've estimated it will take as long as 4 decades to dismantle the plant, and this first step is the most difficult.