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Image credit: Tokyo Electric Power Co via Getty Images

Fukushima reactor's radiation levels killed a cleaning robot

The machine was pulled out two hours into its mission.
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Tokyo Electric Power Co via Getty Images

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) wasn't kidding when it said the radiation levels inside Fukushima's nuclear reactor are the highest they've been since its meltdown in 2011. It had to pull out the robot it sent in to find the exact location of melted uranium fuel and to do preliminary cleanup inside the reactor, because it died shortly after it started its mission. Apparently, two of the machine's cameras suddenly became wonky, darkened and developed a lot of noise after merely two hours of scraping debris away. Those are all signs of extremely high radiation levels.

Tepco believes the robot endured approximately 650 Sieverts of radiation per hour if it only lasted a couple of hours. If it were a human in there, he would have died instantly. The team decided to pull the robot back when its cameras went dark before losing it completely.

Since the machine wasn't able to complete its mission of doing recon and cleanup for Tepco's second robot, the follow-up machine will have a lot more to do. That is, if the team even decides to deploy it -- officials said they have to study the outcome further before deciding. The good news is that even though the radiation levels inside the reactor are extremely deadly, the team didn't find any leaks that could pose a risk to anyone outside.

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