The operator of Japan’s stricken nuclear plant said Sunday it will send two remote-controlled robots into a reactor building damaged by a hydrogen explosion to gauge radiation and temperature levels.
Emergency workers battling to stabilise the plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems on March 11 have not been able to enter any of the reactor buildings since the disaster.
The explosion — one of several caused when a build-up of hydrogen reacted with oxygen in the atmosphere in the days immediately after the quake — blew the roof off the outer structure housing reactor three.
A spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said the two American-made robots would enter the reactor three building on Sunday to check radiation, temperature, humidity and oxygen levels.
Radiation from the overheating reactors has made its way into the air, land and sea, leading the government to impose exclusion zones around the plant in Fukushima prefecture and damaging local fishing and farming industries.
Read the rest of the story: Robots to gauge radiation in Japan’s quake-hit plants.
Dentsu Facility Management Inc will start taking orders for the "Chef’s Farm," a small vegetable plant that can be installed in, for example, a restaurant, in June 2010.
The vegetable plant, which will be released in the summer of 2010 in Japan, was exhibited at International Food Machinery & Technology Exhibition 2010 (FOOMA JAPAN 2010), which took place from June 8 to 11, 2010, in Tokyo. It is priced at about ¥8.3 million (approx US$90,552). Dentsu Facility Management claims that it is possible to harvest 60 heads of lettuce per day (20,000 per year) and recoup the investment in about five years.
The Chef’s Farm comes with five nutriculture beds, each of which is 2,750mm in width and 1,270mm in depth. Each bed is installed with long and thin metal frames on which lettuce seeds can be planted in sponges (one piece of sponge for a seed).
Read the rest of the story: Small Vegetable Plant to Debut for Use in Restaurants.
Japanese agriculture is in a free-fall decline. In the years between 1960 and 2005, the share of agricultural output in gross domestic product (GDP) dropped from 9% to 1%, the food self-sufficiency ratio from 79% to 41%, and agricultural land, indispensable for food security, from 6.09 million hectares to 4.63 million hectares.
Meanwhile, the ratio of part-time farm households, which derive more than half their income from non-farm employment, increased from 32.1% to 61.7%. The percentage of farmers over 65 years old also jumped from 10% to 60%. Gross agricultural output in 2006 was 8.5 trillion yen (US$93.4 billion), less than the sales volume of Panasonic, which stood at 9.1 trillion yen in the same year.
Read the rest of the story: High rice prices feed Japan’s farming woes
Photo by kayakaya