How To Clean Nuclear Waste

Cleaning up radioactive waste is a dangerous job for a human. That’s why researchers at the University of  Manchester are developing robots that could do the job for us. Five years ago, in 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami devastated the east coast of Japan, leading to explosions and subsequent radiation release at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The fuel in three of the reactors is believed to have melted, causing a large amount of contaminated water on site.

This is still to be dealt with today – which isn’t too surprising, given that the clean-up of Chernobyl is still underway 30 years after the infamous nuclear accident took place. After the accident at Chernobyl, where an extremely high level of radiation was released, workers had to be sent into areas to which you wouldn’t want to send a human being. For the safety of others, they entered the plant to survey its condition, extinguish fires and manually operate equipment and machinery – all in an environment that endangered their lives. The challenge in dismantling the site at Fukushima is the residual radiation level. In the surrounding areas levels have fallen significantly; in some places (still off limits to former residents) radiation levels actually aren’t very different from natural background levels in certain other parts of the world. But in the reactor itself a person would receive a lethal dose of radiation almost instantly.

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At Fukushima, many of the instrumentation systems, such as reactor-water level and reactor pressure, were lost in the incident. This made assessing the integrity of the plant extremely difficult as you couldn’t send people to go and look at it,” explains Professor Barry Lennox, who, alongside Dr Simon Watson at The University of Manchester, is working to find another way of getting access to such dangerous places: by using robots. Professor Lennox and Dr Watson are part of a team working to adapt robots to help clean up Fukushima. They’re developing an underwater remote-operated vehicle – the AVEXIS – to help identify highly radioactive nuclear fuel that is believed to be dispersed underwater in the damaged reactor. The robot is already aiding decommissioning efforts at Sellafield, where it will swim around the ponds storing legacy waste to map and monitor the conditions within them.

Source: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/

Nuclear Hazard: Major Step To Cure Radiation Sickness

At the labs of the biotech firm Pluristem Therapeutics in Haifa (Israel), researchers have developed an injection of cells from the placenta that can treat radiation exposure. Cells from the donated placentas are harvested to create a cocktail of therapeutic proteins.

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With these cells, we are injecting these cells to the bodies’ muscles and over there they capture stress signal from the body and they start secreting factors like… that will help the bone marrow to recover after radiation“, says Esther Lukasiewicz, Vice President (Medical Affairs)  at Pluristem Therapeutics.
The treatment is currently undergoing trials in Jerusalem and the United States. Animals exposed to radiation during testing have shown nearly a 100 percent recovery rate. The company says it’s most effective if injected within 48 hours of exposure to radiation, which could make it a vital tool in emergencies.

Yaky Yanay, President at Pluristem Therapeutics and  comments: “So it will be very easy to use, off-the-shelf and readily available. We designed it to be simple to treat it in the combat field or in case of the catastrophe itself, you just have to take the vial, take the cells out and inject it into the patients muscle so we will be able to treat or the agencies will be able to treat a lot of people in a short time.” The meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 is one such scenario. Pluristem Therapeutics is now working with Fukushima Medical University to treat people in case they are exposed to radiation.

When the Fukushima disaster happened it inspired our feeling that we have to do it stronger and quicker and we developed an aggressive plan in order to bring the product into awareness and today with NIH (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) support and the cooperation of the Fukushima center we strongly believe that we can bring the product to cure many patients“, says Zami Aberman, Chairman and CEO at Pluristem Therapeutics.
Further trials are currently underway, and the company says the U.S. is keen to stockpile the treatment in case of emergency. They’re now developing similar treatments for disorders like Crohn’s Disease and other disorders of the central nervous system.

Source: http://www.pluristem.com/
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http://www.reuters.com/