Tepco smells a rat in Fukushima No. 1 fuel pool cooling glitch


A rat apparently gnawed on a switchboard or its wiring, causing the 30-hour power cutoff for the spent-fuel pool cooling systems at the triple-meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that led to renewed fallout fears, Tokyo Electric Power Co. indicated Wednesday.

Tepco said it found the burnt carcass of what appeared to be a rat near the makeshift switchboard as well as burn marks on the equipment, although it has yet to determine the exact cause of the power outage.

The switchboard runs the cooling systems of the spent-fuel pools of reactors 3 and 4 as well as a common pool located inside another building at the site that contains 6,377 nuclear fuel assemblies.

Tepco said it had not taken any steps to prevent wildlife, such as rodents, from getting at the switchboard and said it is continuing to investigate other factors that may have caused the power outage, which was apparently resolved minutes after midnight Tuesday.

The makeshift switchboard was located on the back of a truck that had been parked outside since May 2011. Tepco was planning to stop using the equipment and switch to a new permanent switchboard by the end of this month.

The cooling system for reactor 1 has a separate electrical system from the makeshift power switchboard, but at the time of the power outage it was connected to the makeshift switchboard due to ongoing multiple tasks and was affected, the utility said.

Tepco restarted all nine power outage-hit facilities, including an installation to remove radioactive substances from water used to cool the crippled reactors, by midnight Tuesday after electricity went out a day earlier.

On Wednesday, the water temperature stood at 31.8 degrees in the common pool that stores the 6,377 fuel assemblies, 31 degrees in the reactor 4 spent-fuel pool and 17 degrees in both the reactors 1 and 3 fuel pools.

Those temperatures are between 1 and 6.3 degrees higher than the levels before the power outage.

Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono said, “It will take several days for the temperatures to get back to normal.”

The latest trouble occurred more than two years after the plant was ravaged by the tsunami from the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as possibly by the temblor itself. Reactors 1-3 suffered core meltdowns after the disaster struck, as well as hydrogen explosions, which destroyed the building housing reactor 4 and left its spent-fuel pool exposed.

  • Arunigrace

    Rats reproduce every three weeks. How many rats are down there?

    • coligny

      Should they airdrop rat-condoms and birth control tips pamphlet ?

    • Fortunatelythe “cable chewing gene” in rats is rare and terminal, rats that eat wires dont reproduce.

  • Holy Buddha–would someone responsible please just take over TEPCO and replace all the rats with some pigs. Pigs are more intelligent.

    • Nice!

    • coligny

      and they make bacon…

    • It’s impossible so long as there is collusion with the state. It does not matter who is in charge. Nationalized power or “semi-nationalized private monopolies” do not have the incentive to keep us safe.

      A fully private entity would know that it would have to cut all the cheques in the event of a disaster as it cannot fall back on the state to subsidize their business/tell the population “we’re all in this together” and expect them to take the hit. Full freedom means full responsibility: no accepting 1billion yen from the state — it means paying out and then getting out if you can’t get the job done.

  • 22hctac

    I would think pest control would be part of any successful restoration project, this is absurd. Tepco isn’t restoring confidence in nuclear power, your either excellent or make excuses. You can’t do both.

  • Why can TEPCO pass the buck to this poor rat? He might have been trying to repair the power outage on behalf of impotent TEPCO.

  • TokyoTengu

    Oh dear sweet Lord… RATS? RATS in places where angels fear to tread??? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Phillip

    The incompetence is breath-taking. Basil Fawlty could do it better.

  • inoue toshio 子どもを守れ!

    It is said, “A mountain, rumbling in travail, brought forth a mouse,” and in this TEPCO case, a mouse had brought the entire Daiichi Nuclear Power plant into a terrible crisis.

  • Nada

    Dnadnadnadnadnadnadnadnadna Ratman!!

    ohh.. maybe they can test the Rat for signs of radiation poisoning… it might be a revelation for rat-traps.. who would have ever thought of Radioactive Cheese.. the cows in Fukushima?

    read about one of the first big experiments of radiation on rats.. the startling fact is they died very fast but on the outside they look as if they were untouched. after they did an autopsy they found that all the rats internal organs had more than doubled in size… which explains the recent incidents of plant-workers suffering many kinds of cardiovascular illnesses. so those skeptics that keep sayin ‘how many has Fukushima Daiichi killed? none.’ these kind of people should be made to walk the plank into the Nuclear Core along with the rest of Ignorant Japan.

    also never forget the two young workers who were sent to the basement of a reactor shortly after the mega-quake. they were sent there by their superior to check on what was already a critical emergency… recently some workers admit they saw toxic smoke billowing from the reactors long before the Tsunami arrived. that TEPCO man who sent those two brave young ones, still in their early 20s, & never told them about the Tsunami Alert they probably couldnt hear.. and abandoned them to die, must have the most guilty conscience in the world right now. whats infuriating is their drowned & irradiated bodies were recovered something like over a year after Meltdown.. along with many of those abandoned loved ones around the Fukushima Reactors.

    if that isnt enough.. then idk what is.. as Matsumura Naoto, the man who became infamous after his deciding his own fate of not evacuating his town of Tomika, recently said TEPCO is no different than a cult or a religion.. all brainwashed to the nuclear core of their minds.

    also while we are so busy dancing with Fukushima.. we tend to forget about Tokaimura, located near Disneyland.. that had a bad nuclear accident in the early 2000s where 2 workers perished in a nuclear explosion.

    The Year of The Snake Takes a Bite Out of A Rat!

    little did TEPCO know how HUMILIATING that photo is for people born in the Year of The Mouse.

    click. click. click.

    Love Nature As If Your Own Child

    Ziro Japan

  • I’m wondering how the rat survived the radiation…

  • Shah

    What a fun they brought into the world! They should be chosen for Nobel prize or at leaset for a Oscar. Herr Tepco! We are so proud of You!!!

  • Glenn Carroll

    Rats join jellyfish, manatees, and raccoons on Godzilla’s team to teach humans to back away from the radioactive gun and spare the future to live. Thank Godzilla they have restored power to the fuel pools before the unholiest of radiological disasters was unleashed. Humans should make it a global priority to move ALL spent nuclear fuel from pools into passive, ideally, hardened dry cask storage. The fuel casks at Fukushima came through the earthquake and the tsunami unscathed.

  • As Frank Zappa might have said – maybe it would be better if weasels ripped the flesh of TEPCO management. That might focus their attention about the nuclear disaster they caused and are attempting to dealing with.