TEPCO has announced that they have found what they believe is fuel residues inside the pedestal area of unit 3. The first day of inspections with the swimming robot found debris inside the pedestal near the doorway. Efforts were then stopped to reconsider further inspection efforts.
The second day of work has taken place and what was found looks very similar to what was found in unit 2. A section of the control rods is missing as is the metal floor grating below the same area. Dark “dripping” materials are seen adhering to some nearby surfaces. TEPCO assumes this is residue from the molten fuel and melted steel. Evident inside the pedestal area is a pale colored thick substance that has adhered to solid surfaces. This same material is seen throughout the area of the containment structure inspected with a scope earlier. Now this same material is found inside the pedestal area.
The material has smooth thick edges making it unlikely to be rust, though there are considerable areas of rust inside containment. This material also does not match any known material from previous reactor meltdowns or melted fuel (corium) research. TEPCO makes no specific mention of this substance.
This photo shows what appears to be the light colored debris splattered from a specific direction onto the surfaces.
The effort on the 22nd to examine deeper into the pedestal may result in significant new understanding of the meltdown in unit 3. We will report those findings as soon as they are released by TEPCO.
Images below include the original images from TEPCO and images modified to bring out structural details. Those that have been modified have a watermark in the lower right corner.
We also have images and video stills from the previous day’s work in our Flickr archive.
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