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92 I n March 2011, the Daiichi nuclear power plant at Okuma, Fukushima, suffered three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions and widespread leakage of radiological contaminants, caused by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The radiation unleashed into the atmosphere resulted in a government- ordered evacuation zone that gradually reached 20 km in diameter and required the movement of around 154,000 nearby residents. With a government commission having found that the Tokyo Electric Power Company failed to meet basic safety requirements, a number of measures have been taken to prevent a repeat of the disaster’s various impacts. For example, new sea walls have been built to better prevent tsunamis from flooding and damaging the plant’s infrastructure, and a 1.5 km ‘ice wall’ of frozen earth has been installed to prevent irradiated or contaminated water flowing from the premises. Most recently, a Penguin C UAV from UAV Factory has been acquired by local company Clear Pulse, to be used in the event of another disaster. In such a situation, the fixed-wing UAV will perform airborne radiological surveys to detect, study and map the radiation levels. These flights will then give a better idea than before about the safety and evacuation decisions needed. Clear Pulse manufactures radiation measurement products, and its contract with UAV Factory, signed in 2018, covers delivery and various follow-up support services for the Penguin C and its ancillary equipment. The company notes that when radioactive material is released into the air after a nuclear accident, it is important to know its concentration in real time, to This commercial aerial system is being tailored to monitor and mitigate the fallout from disasters at nuclear powerplants. Rory Jackson reports Nuclear reaction August/September 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology A technician in Fukushima oversees key flight planning details before the Penguin C’s first flight over the Daiichi nuclear plant (Courtesy of Clear Pulse)