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Japan Power Hardware

Fukushima Cooling Knocked Offline By... a Rat 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the rats-of-nimh-are-running-our-nuclear-reactors dept.
necro81 writes "The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs, the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble."
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Fukushima Cooling Knocked Offline By... a Rat

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  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:43PM (#43226821)

    Every other year I have to remove fried mice out of my in-wall stove's wiring, In autumn they try to come in side and look for a nice warm place for winter. I guess they find the oven before they find the mousetraps.

    This, however, never makes it to Slashdot...

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:51PM (#43226885)

    They didn't say that the pools would risk releasing radiation after 4 days, they said:

    Tepco said it would have taken several days for temperatures in the pools to have risen above the safe level of 65 degrees Celsius, or 149 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The company said that temperatures in the fuel pools would have remained at safe levels for at least four days.

    A rise above "safe" levels doesn't necessarily mean radiation release. I don't think there's any danger of radiation release until the water boils down to a level where the rods are exposed (and presumably even in an extended power outage, additional purified water could be added to the pools to maintain water levels).

    Rat induced power problems are not uncommon in large industrial plants. All it takes is an unsealed conduit cover while workers take a meal break, and a rat can slip inside. Rats wreaked havoc on network cables (both fiber and copper) at a building I once worked at -- many of the conduit runs were left unsealed by a vendor (or poorly sealed by foam plugs that eventually shrank enough to be displaced by the rodents) and the rats found them convenient for getting around the building (as well as a cozy place to live), and apparently they liked to nibble on cables or their feces+urine degraded the cables enough to cause failure. They ended up replacing almost all of the cables in uncapped conduit (and properly sealing the conduit this time).

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @04:55PM (#43227563)

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but is not Fukushima in fact a Soviet-era reactor, or nearly so? They could potentially perform massive refitting of the plant, but that's expensive, you're already complaining about the current energy prices

    You are wrong. The reactors are Fukushima-I are all USA design BWR's (designed by General Electric, several were manufactured by GE). I'm not sure that "era" means what you think it does...Unless by "Soviet-era" you meant the period of time that the USSR existed? That would put most of the nuclear plants in the USA in the "Soviet-era".

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