Following a visit of Japan’s foreign minister in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Japan have agreed to join forces to monitor their respective crippled nuclear power plants using space-based technologies.
The deepening Fukushima crisis has prompted Japan to seek advice from Ukraine, who has plenty of experience dealing with the legacy of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida has thus visited the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the World War II to gain insight from local experts.
"I was surprised with the fact that even after 27 years since the accident, Ukraine still continues to struggle with the consequences of the disaster," Kishida said.
A as part of the visit, Kishida met his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kozhara. After the meeting they announced they had agreed to join forces to improve monitoring of the two crippled power plants. .
"We have agreed on cooperation in the space sector to monitor the regions surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima," Kishida said.
The venture will bring together the Tokyo University researchers and the Ukrainian space agency. They aim to launch eight cube sats by 2014 to gather data on contamination of the environment surrounding the two power plants.
The cube sat constellation, orbiting at the altitude of 600km, will be taking images of the sites every two hours. The data will be combined with those collected by ground-based sensors monitoring radiation levels.
The concerns regarding the situation in Fukushima have grown after it was revealed last week that 300 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked from a storage tank, undermining the trust in Tepco, the site’s operator, and its ability to handle the crisis.
The Fukushima 2011 disaster is, together with the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, the only nuclear accident rated as the level 7 – the most serious accident according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).