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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fairewinds Responds to Power Failure at Fukushima Daiichi


Two nights ago, an electrical component at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants in Japan lost power, affecting the plants’ ability to cool their radioactive fuel rods. Since the earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 causing three meltdowns, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it hasbeen working on repairs and
maintenance at the severely damaged and non-operational plants. More than
100,000 people are still not allowed back in their homes due to significant
radiation contamination, the entirety of which may never be cleaned up. This
latest incident of power loss at the Fukushima Daiichi plants comes a week
after the two year anniversary of the tsunami and ensuing meltdowns.

 After a one day delay with no cooling to the three spent fuel pools, TEPCO finally restored power. Is TEPCO doing an adequate job of keeping the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power site safe?
We don’t think so. TEPCO’s primary job at the Fukushima Daiichi site is to keep the plants in the static equilibrium of what the nuclear industry calls a “cold shutdown” by cooling radioactive fuel rods in spent fuel pools. Losing power to one spent fuel pool might be understandable, but to have such a massive power failure last almost 24 hours is unconscionable. Because this problem lasted almost one day, and because several cooling systems were simultaneously disabled, Fairewinds believes that a common electrical component is the equipment that failed, likely a junction box or a transformer. Nuclear plants are supposed to be built to be single failure proof, meaning that if
one component fails the systems still remain operational via other equipment.
The loss of spent fuel pool cooling simultaneously in three nuclear reactors means
that a
common mode failure, or worse yet a single failure, was somehow allowed to occur in TEPCO’s jury-rigged design. This simply should
never happen.

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