Fukushima Damage Finally to Be Probed via the guardian


Experts agree that clean-up needs to occur. The accident happened, radiation continues to leak from the site and the buildings remain as they were since it all began. In order to clean up, custom-made tools will be required which will be based upon the actual environment and parameters of the accident. A new technology that may be able to provide three-dimensional images of the buildings’ interiors and the wrecked reactor cores appears to now be available.Toshiba, the initial clean-up contractor, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory will deploy a technology that the Energy Department has been working on for a number of years and has already licensed to a Virginia-based company which uses it to screen shipping containers for smuggled items that might be used to build nuclear bombs. While the version to be used by Toshiba and Los Alamos National Laboratory will employ a slightly different methodology, one which will focus less on the detection of uranium or plutonium and more on mapping the location of deposits, the technology and concept is similar.

The technology will utilize the special properties of muons, which are subatomic particles. Muons travel at close to the speed of light and can penetrate hundreds of feet into the earth. The muons will be targeted toward the interior of the buildings with exteriors too thick to be penetrated by x-rays. While there is a slight similarity between x-rays and muons, the actual physics of the project is very different. The exposure, which will yield a usable image, cannot be done quickly, and the muon tomography could require weeks before producing a useful image.

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