Don't Fire Up Nuclear Plants Without Robots

William Saletan: They must be resistant to radiation and ready to go

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 22, 2011 1:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – An easy first lesson is emerging from Japan's nuclear mess: No nuclear reactors should be in operation anywhere unless they have robots ready to fend off disaster, writes William Saletan in Slate. He's not talking about run-of-the-mill robots that replace humans at menial tasks. He means expensive, radiation-resistant robots that can get close to out-of-control reactors to help cool them down.

Fukushima Dai-ichi had none of these and has had to pull out human workers repeatedly, raising the risk of a meltdown. "This is crazy," he writes. "Robots have to be available within hours, hardened to radiation, and equipped to help." From here on out, this should be a no-brainer: No reactor gets fired up unless the right robots are standing by.

A fire engine sprays water toward reactor No. 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.
A fire engine sprays water toward reactor No. 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.   (AP Photo/Japan Defense Ministry)
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