As workers continue to grapple with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, the crisis has shone a spotlight on nuclear reactors around the world. In June, The Associated Press released results from a yearlong investigation, revealing evidence of “unrelenting wear” in many of the oldest-running facilities in the United States.
Tiny robots may monitor underground pipes for radioactive leaks.
That study found that three-quarters of the country’s nuclear reactor sites have leaked radioactive tritium from buried piping that transports water to cool reactor vessels, often contaminating groundwater. According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the industry has limited methods to monitor underground pipes for leaks.